Spring is a popular time to do home improvement projects. Sometime you can tackle those projects yourself and other times you need some help. For big projects, you’ll need a contractor. But how do you know a contractor is right for the job and where should you begin your search? Here are a few tips for finding a reputable company.
Know the Type of Work You Want Done
A common mistake people make is not knowing what type of work they want done in their homes. Before hiring a contractor make sure you know the exact renovation you need. If you do have multiple fixes, don’t hire one contractor to do all the repairs. Hire a specialist for each job. For example, if you want your roof repaired, it doesn’t make sense to pay an interior contractor to work on it.
Ask for Contractor Recommendations
Talk to your friends and family and ask them for contractor recommendations. You should also do some online research and read reviews by real homeowners who have used a contractor’s services. Try talking to your neighbors who may have had work done on their homes too. Make a list of reputable contractors based on the information you gather.
Call the possible contractors on your list, and ask them questions. Will they take on your particular project? Can they send you financial references? Do they have proof of proper licensing? Can you get a previous client list? How long they have worked with subcontractors? The more information you obtain from them, the easier it will be to make a choice based on reliability, availability and how attentive they will be to your home improvement project.
Meet Potential Contractors
Meet all the contractors on your short list to get estimates and to test their communication skills. Communication is very important when it comes to projects like these, so you’ll want a contractor who you feel comfortable with and who answers questions. Feel free to double-check a company by contacting your state’s consumer protection agency to see if they have a history of disputes or not.
With your short list of contractors in hand, it’s time to get bids. Ask each company to break down the cost of labor, materials, profit margin, payment schedules and duration of the work. Materials typically account for 40 percent of the total cost. Profit margin is usually 15 to 20 percent. For large home improvement projects, a typical payment schedule starts with 10 percent down and three payments of 25 percent, spaced over the course of the project. A check for the final 15 percent should only be due when you are satisfied that the work has been completed, according to ThisOldHouse.com.
Draw Up a Contract
Every aspect of your project should be put in writing. Without a contract, it’s your word against the contractor’s if a dispute comes up about materials, labor or the quality of the work done.
A reputable company will give you a comprehensive contract that clearly explains every aspect of the project, including start and end dates, costs, schedule, materials, steps of the project, proof of insurance, etc.