Do you need to hire a general contractor for a new home or home addition? You will have numerous companies knocking at your door for the work. How do you know what company will produce the best results at the best price? You must properly vet the potential general contractors as a responsible consumer and make your decision once you gather data and compare your results. We give you the ultimate guide on how to vet a home contractor.
Most contractors will claim that they can do everything from home improvement to building to remodels to interior design. However, you want to pick a home builder or repairman that has extensive experience with your specific construction needs.
Clarify the type of work you need and consider some of the most difficult aspects of the project, such as a pool installation or eco-friendly construction, and find a contractor with knowledge in those areas.
Some of the different types of contractors include:
- General contractor
- Remodeling contractor
- Home improvement contractor
- Interior designer
Do not hesitate to hire the right contractor for each aspect of the job, even if you must hire a home improvement contractor as well as an interior designer. Ensure all contractors have the ability to communicate and work together when necessary.
Location matters, too. You need a local contractor who understands the building codes and requirements in the area. Does the potential contractor have experience working on buildings in the area?
A reputable contractor can also answer your questions about obtaining a building permit and any other necessary permits required for the work since they have become familiar with the processes through their experience.
When you apply for a job, your potential employer may ask you for references. You should do the same.
Ask your contractor to provide local references who requested similar work so that you can call to ask about their experience.
You can also get a sense of the quality of past work through reviews and looking up the company on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
If looking at reviews, don’t dismiss a good contractor for one or two bad reviews. Look at the overall consensus of the reviews.
You may find yourself responsible if you request service from an unlicensed contractor who doesn’t have the required credentials.
Check the laws in your area to learn what credentials your contractor must have, such as certifications and insurance, and verify that your preferred contractor meets all of the legal requirements to do the work.
A licensed contractor should have their credentials readily available for you.
Accidents happen. However, contractors can minimize accidents with proper safety protocol.
You can learn about a company’s safety protocol by researching past public safety incidents.
A couple of incidents are normal, but an excessive amount of accidents may be a red flag.
Keep in mind that you may end up responsible if someone gets damaged on your property.
What can you expect when working with a particular contractor? Are you on the same page regarding expectations and procedures?
Things to ask include:
- How much will the job cost and how will you be charged?
- What happens if things go over budget?
- How long will the job take?
- What should you expect if the job takes longer than anticipated?
- Who will be performing the actual work?
- Does the contractor use a subcontractor for plumbing or electrical work?
- Who will have access to your home?
- Who will be your point of contact?
- What’s the best method of contact?
- When can you expect a response?
- Does the work come with a guarantee or warranty?
Always get the details clarified in a written contract and read through the contract thoroughly before signing it.
Don’t forget proper documentation of payment in the form of a lien waiver (a legal record of payment that prevents the contractor from claiming they didn’t get paid).
The cheapest contractor may not produce quality results. At the same time, the most expensive company isn’t necessarily the best company.
Examine the value you get from each contractor and not just the cost. A quick contractor may be necessary if you want to sell your home quickly. In this case, ask your contractor how long it will take to sell your house.
Work with a contractor that offers solutions that meet your long-term goals, such as an energy-efficient HVAC system. Some contractors will even go above and beyond and help with maintenance after the fact. If left to handle those details yourself, don’t forget to ask when to service your air conditioner and water heater.
Don’t only think of the value you receive once the contractor completes the work but also when it comes time to sell your home.
At the end of the day, contractors are in the people business.
Do you and the contractor seem to vibe right off the bat, or do you find it difficult to communicate with them? Does the contractor seem trustworthy?
When you describe the job to the contractor, do they seem to understand your vision?
Does the contractor understand your primary goals?
Homeowners may feel the need to enlist the help of a contractor for new construction or a home improvement project. Vetting contractors don’t have to take up too much time or cause too much of a headache as long as you go into the process knowing what you want and what to ask.