How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor

If you’re looking to do some major home improvement, you may want to look into hiring a remodeling contractor. There are different types of contractors you can hire depending on your specific remodeling needs. A general remodeling contractor can help with a number of different tasks; however, if you only want to install wood floors, you might be better off just looking for a flooring contractor.

When you’re thinking about house flipping or remodeling, hiring contractors can be a little intimidating. Here at the Resourceful Remodeler, we’ve compiled a few tips and questions for you to consider when you think about how to choose a remodeling contractor for your home improvement projects.

FINDING A CONTRACTOR

Whether you need to find basement remodeling contractors or licensed wood flooring contractors, locating contractors can be a job in itself. Some contractors specialize in specific areas. For instance, you wouldn’t want to hire a commercial flooring contractor to install vinyl log siding. The best thing to do is ask for referrals from family and friends. They are the people you trust the most, and you can rely on their honest opinions when making decisions for your home improvements.

HOME REMODELING CONTRACTOR FAQ

Once you have the names of a few contractors in your area you think might work well for you, it’s time to begin doing a little research. You can look at remodeling contractor websites or pick up the phone if you wish. You’ll want to find out if these potential hires are licensed and insured to work in your area. One state or city may have a different requirement than another, so be sure to know exactly what a contractor needs in order to conduct business in your area.

You may also want to find out if the contractors have any other certifications for areas they may specialize in. Groups like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) require contractors to meet specific standards in order to earn an endorsement.

Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to set up some appointments with a few different contractors and get that estimate. Here are a few obvious and some not so obvious questions you should feel free to ask:

  • How long has he/she been in business?
  • How accurate are they on their estimates?
  • How long will this job take?
  • What time will they be arriving/leaving every day?
  • What are the steps in completing my project?
  • Will they be working every day? What is the planned work schedule?
  • What are the milestones / planned step completion dates?
  • Who will supervise the work?
  • Do they use employees or subcontractors?
  • How many other projects like mine have they done?
  • Have they done similar jobs that can be called as a reference?

These are all questions a contractor should be ready and willing to answer. They are an important part of the decision-making process, but they are not the only things to consider.

One question to be sure to ask is, does the contractor have insurance to cover any damage to you or your property and even more importantly, any injuries to any contractor staff, subcontractors, or bystanders. Many people do not realize that if a contractor is injured on the job that the home owner / property owner is liable for damages. If they do not have the proper insurance, then walk away.

It’s also important to trust your common sense and judge of character. If you feel like there’s something missing, there probably is.

You also have to realize this person is going to have a front row seat to your everyday life. They’ll know what soap operas you watch and probably what you look like when you get up in the morning. Keeping all that in mind; if you don’t feel comfortable asking questions to this contractor in your pajamas, you might want to consider someone else.

FINALIZING YOUR REMODELING PLANS

Once you’ve decided on your contractor you’ll need to make sure you have some specific items before you allow work to start on your home.

Do you need a permit for the work to be done? Most cities require permits for any structural changes made to your home, or if the construction impacts the basic living area of your home. These requirements can vary greatly in some cases. A good contractor will know the requirements for your area before he/she ever comes to your home.

Your contractor should have a written contract prepared for you. Make sure this document looks professional and contains information other than just the price and expected start and finish date. It should also include every detail of work to be done, a schedule, site plan, some sort of limited warranty, a change-order statement and a waiver of lien.

The last item on the list is very important and often the most overlooked. A waiver of lien prevents subcontractors and suppliers from putting a lien on a project (your home) should the contractor fail to pay them.

If everything looks good on paper, and you feel you’ve established a good relationship with your contractor, you’re ready to give the go ahead on your remodeling project!