5 things you must do before choosing a remodeling contractor
You've spent countless conversations on that one room that needs a little TLC and what ideas you have to give it your own HGTV make over. You've done your planning and you're ready to for the next step.
You need to find a professional, honest, local contractor.
Lets face it. Most of us reading this blog do not have enough time, or experience to tackle our DIY projects. The popular choice is to hire those pros you see on a Facebook ad, newspaper ad, on craigslist (if anyone uses that anymore), or somewhere like Angie's List or Thumbtack.
As a professional home remodeling contractor in the Akron, Massillon, Canton area, I can tell you from first hand experience how many of our clients have gone with that "qualified candidate" that they found on Facebook or other source. After these "pros" get the down payment, some can never be reached again to start the job. Other "pros" start the project and seem to take their time, or make a lot of questionable mistakes, or demand the final payment to finish the job and correct their mistakes but never can be reached after that last check clears.
STEP 1: ASK AROUND FOR REFERRALS
A great way to find a referral is ask a friend or family who they went with when they got their project recently completed. This is a valuable lead because if they recently had a project done, you can potentially go see the contractors work in person. Here are some questions to ask your friend or family member about the contractor:
1. Who is the contractor and where are they located?
2. How was communication with this contractor?
3. Was their estimate fairly priced and detailed in writing?
4. How was the down payment and installment payments?
5. Did they clean up after each day of work?
6. Were there any unforeseen issues during the project? Did they explain what happened and provide a solution to fix it?
7. Did they show up on time everyday and keep you informed on the progress of the project?
Social media is another good way of finding qualified contractors. I suggest checking the contractors Facebook page, reviews, pictures, and do an Ohio Business Search to see if they are registered with the state.
STEP 2: GET AT LEAST 3 ESTIMATES
I recommend getting at least 3 estimates. This will allow you to get an idea of the price range for your project. Don't just automatically go with the cheapest estimate. Averaging 3 estimates will give you an idea if someone is low balling the other two companies just to get the work. It can also show you who is over priced. Estimate price, referrals, reviews, and recent work pictures all play a role in chosing the right candidate. Also see if the estimate is well written and in detail or if most items are generalized with a total price. Always ask questions about the estimate if you feel something is missing or doesn't look right. If something is missing it's ok. Just communicate this with the contractor so they can add it to the estimate.
STEP 3: CHECK THE VERIFIED REVIEWS
Checking the verified reviews of a company can save you headaches down the road. Good places to see reviews are Facebook, Google, Thumbtack, Home Advisor, Better Business Bureau, etc. These typically are verified reviews and some come with photos. Don't be scared if you see one bad review. In the field of providing a service to the public, there are typically one or two customers that just can't be pleased. If you find no bad reviews, you might have a good contractor in front of you.
STEP 4: DOWNPAYMENT, PAYMENT TERMS
This part of the project can be scary. How much should I give the contractor? I typically tell my clients that for small projects we do a 50% down, 50% upon completion for projects that last 1-3 days.
For larger projects, 4+ days, we require a 40/30/30 plan. 40% down, 30% halfway, and 30% upon completion. This allows us to keep a good cash flow for labor and materials, and allows the customer to pay in portions which builds trust between us. This item should be explained well in the estimate before you sign it.
STEP 5: SELECTING A CONTRACTOR
Choosing a contractor 101. I have listed a few items that will help you choose a good contractor and mitigate finding a bad contractor. There are more things to take into consideration than what you have read above. Keep in mind the following when choosing a contractor:
1. Did you feel comfortable talking to the contractor during the estimate?
2. Were they prompt, timely, and punctual?
3. Did they provide quality reviews, recent pictures?
4. How was their customer service?
5. Did they take the time to answer questions and explain the project process?
6. Did you ask them how long they have been in business and their experience in the field of trade?
7. Did they give you a friendly experience or did you feel like you were pressured into choosing them?
8. Did they give you options for your project?
Doing the proper research, asking the right questions, and getting quality referrals helps in choosing the right contractor for your project. Getting everything in writing, checking to make sure they are a registered business, checking for current and past law suits, and seeing their work in person can help mitigate a head ache project, and finding someone who will take the time to communicate with you during the entire project assuring that your needs are their only priority.