An extensive home remodeling or renovation project is a big financial investment and commitment.
And hiring a qualified residential contractor is critical. The contractor you choose can make the difference between a beautiful outcome and a total disaster.
But with all the residential contractors that claim they can do the job well, how do you select a professional company that can transform your space into the dream home you’ll love?
The answer lies in finding a residential contractor that meets certain criteria. In this post, you’ll discover the important criteria you need to know to choose a qualified professional.
Here are 10 qualities to look for when hiring the right residential contractor.
10 Must-Have Qualities Needed in Hiring a Residential Contractor
Incorporate these qualities into your search for a contractor. You’ll be glad you took the time to do the research before you sign the contract.
1. An Established Reputation In Your Local Community
Do the residential contractors you speak with have an established business reputation in your town? Make sure they do.
Even better if they live in your neighborhood. If so, you can get references from people you know who the contractor has done work for. You can learn this by asking about the remodeling jobs they’ve done in your neighborhood.
Working with a professional that lives outside of your general area can be a problem if there’s an emergency. It might take too long for them to respond if they live far away.
Always get a business card from the contractors you speak to. If the card has a P.O. box instead of an address, that’s a big red flag.
2. Does the Residential Contractor Have Customer References That You Can Contact?
When it comes to requesting customer references, don’t be shy. Established contractors with good reputations will have a set of customers on file that will be happy to speak with you.
Homeowners happy with the job are often delighted to share their experience working with contractors. If the professional you’re considering refuses to provide customer contacts, run.
You can also learn about the company’s reputation through online reviews. Pop the business name into Google, Angie’s List or other review sites to give you an idea of how it is to work with this professional.
Another place that offers unbiased reviews about contractors is through professional service directories.
3. A Website Displaying Former Projects
An established residential contractor should have a business website that includes samples of work the company has done for customers.
Many websites will display ‘before and after’ photos that will give you a good idea how well or how poorly the contractor performs work.
On the company website, customers can learn about the contractor’s experience, how long the company has been in business and view past projects. You’ll find these projects in a photo gallery or portfolio page.
4. A Contractor’s License
Does the contractor hold a contractor’s license? As a homeowner, make sure the business you’re working with has a professional license in the area of specialization you’re hiring them for.
When you’re looking for roofing contractors, the last person you want to hire is someone who doesn’t specialize in roofing.
Make sure the residential contractor you hire holds a licensed contractor certificate, not just a business license.
5. Make Sure Your Contractor Is Insured
Another critical thing you want to know is if the contractor has insurance. Ensure they hold both liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
Or you could be liable if a worker has an accident and decides to go after your home insurance company. Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor to show you the certificate of insurance.
6. They Offer a Bid with a Fixed Price
When getting a contractor’s bid, they’ll offer a fixed price or an estimate? But sometimes an estimate can make you pay more.
When the residential contractor provides an estimate, ask them for a fixed price. If they can’t offer you a fixed rate due to unknowns, ask for a bid on the work that you’ve discussed up to this point.
They can set the price on the work they expect to perform. When additional jobs need to be performed, you can make additional changes to the job order at a later date.
7. The Company Provides a Detailed, Itemized Bid
When a contractor gives you a project rate, make sure to ask for an itemized bid. This will help you compare rates based on the individual jobs that need to be performed.
If a roofer is charging $2,000 for the same work and materials as another roofer, you’re probably being overcharged. By getting an itemized list you’ll be able to compare prices to get the most competitive deal.
Don’t forget to include a list of all the work to be performed.
8. Honesty Communication About Other Projects
Contractors often work on a couple of projects at once. Ask your contractor if the current projects they are working on can affect your timeline if there’s a delay.
This will help you get an accurate estimate of when your project will be completed due to unforeseen circumstances.
9. The Opportunity to Meet the Foreman Working on Your Home
If the contractor is subcontracting out the work, ask to meet the foreman or person overseeing your project.
You can meet with a foreman on a job site and watch how he’s handling things while you’re there. If things look like they’re getting out of hand, you’ll know he’s not the right person for the job.
10. Make Sure You’re Told About Unforeseen Problems Before Moving Forward
Sometimes when workers get deep into a job they can find additional problems that can affect your cost. For example, discovering a busted pipe or bad electrical wiring.
Ask the contractor how additional issues will be communicated to you before any more work is done.
If the cost is too high, you may want to put another part of the job on hold. It’s important that the contractor communicates with you before he picks up a hammer.
The Takeaway on Hiring a Residential Contractor
Incorporate these ten qualities when you’re looking to hire a residential contractor. Checking off these qualities will enable you to choose the right professional for your dream home project.
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