Although you may have a myriad of ideas about renovating and repairing items around your home, your ability to find a dependable contractor to fulfill your vision may be a little more difficult. Rather than respond to the first advertisement you see on the Internet, use a variety of techniques to find, research and choose the best company for each job to ensure you get the results you want without any of the headaches.
Narrow the Field
When you’re planning a home improvement project, you may be bombarded with email from remodeling contractors, plumber marketing or advertisements from local electricians. If you’re unsure who to trust, ask for references from family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Not only might they have recently completed similar projects, but they may also have heard horror stories about firms who did not fulfill their contracts. In addition, if you work with one service provider that does a flawless job, consider asking for referrals for other ideas you’d like to pursue in case they know any dependable people who work in those fields.
Once you have a few good candidates for your project, conduct additional research about them to ensure that they’re not only reputable, but that they’ll also suit your style and personality. Review websites for home contractors to get a consensus about their customer service. Be sure to take the glowing reviews and the irate testimonials with a grain of salt and focus on the write ups that feature constructive comments about the company’s performance and policies. In addition, the companies you’re considering should be willing to give you a list of customer references that you can contact to check out their completed jobs and discuss their professionalism and dependability.
Set up consultations with the companies that you’re considering. Discuss your specific plans – and go into the meeting with a ballpark idea of what the job might cost – so the candidates can give you an accurate estimate. Ensure they have experience in the exact job you’re describing and that they perform all of their own work instead of hiring subcontractors that you have no way of investigating. Also inquire about their years in business, any pending litigation, proof of insurance, billing policies and guarantees on their work, for example.
Once you’ve chosen a favorite, don’t stop there. Continue your research by fully investigating the company’s customer history. Search for your candidate on the consumer protection office website for your state and also uncover the licensing and registration regulations for contractors in your area. This will enable you to determine if the firm meets the legal qualifications to perform the job. In addition, look the company up on the Better Business Bureau site to discover if it has any justified customer complaints. You can also check the firm’s license with your state’s disciplinary agencies to determine if there’s any pending litigation against it.
Obtain a Contract
Protect yourself once you’ve selected a contractor by getting the details for the job in writing. Be sure to include the specifics for the project, what products will be used to complete it and where materials will be obtained. Include a list of deadlines, when payments will be due and what procedures will be followed if the schedule is not met. In addition, specify if you or the contractor will obtain the necessary work permits and include a stipulation that any alterations to the original plans that will change the amount due must be approved by both parties. If you find that the contract that the firm offers you to sign doesn’t contain enough details, create your own addendums and require signatures.
Completely exploring and investigating potential contractors may seem like a waste of time. Yet the hours you spend to find a reliable crew will save you in the long run as you’ll avoid half-finished jobs, long wait times and other nightmares and end up with the home changes you envisioned instead.