Finding a contractor to do work on your house is tricky business. The person or company you bring in will be responsible for improving your home, so it is crucial you hire the right provider. We have all heard horror stories about builders who overcharge, skimp on quality materials, leave halfway through a project, or keep adding on costs.
To prevent mishaps from happening, it’s important to know what to look for when considering a contractor. Here are a few things you want to keep in mind to ensure you land a trustworthy contractor.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth recommendations are the best! If you’re thinking about having work done to your home, a great place to start is asking friends and family if they know of anyone. Chances are they have also had work done on their homes before and can offer some recommendations. Ask them for suggestions, if they were happy with the work conducted, and even ask to see pictures. You want to think about what it is you want and if this contractor sounds like a good fit. If they do, reach out to them and talk to them about your options.
Also, look out for any red flags. For example, you may be keen for your home renovation project to be made out of high-quality materials, so it retains heat well. If Aunt Carol is chuffed to bits with how cheap the contractor was, they may not be the best for you—how can you be sure they won’t use cheap materials?
Interview Multiple Contractors
Talking to several contractors will help give you a better sense of what’s out there and what you want. This will allow you to compare and contrast the budget, the approach used, and your overall relationship with them. Ask for an itemized bid, which clearly shows how they will approach the job and how much everything costs. Make sure the tasks and materials are the same for each bid, so your comparison is fair. Prepare to ask them lots of questions to get a sense of their reliability, and look out for common red flags. If a contractor can start right away, that may suggest they aren’t getting a lot of work. Is there a reason for this? Are they just starting off?
Everyone wants a provider with experience who can show proof of previous projects. For this reason, feel free to ask to see pictures of prior work. Also, be wary of contractors who want the full amount of money upfront as this is a huge red flag. The more money a contractor wants upfront, the higher the risk they might use the money to finish another job, or even leave before finishing yours.
Ask to See a License
Having a license can be what separates a reliable contractor from somebody who is ‘handy’ or does odd jobs. It demonstrates that they have met a standard of competency for their work, they know the rules and regulations, and they have proven they can undertake larger specialized projects. For instance, to attain an Arizona contractors license, you need to take two exams: a business law exam to demonstrate you understand how to run a business and a technical exam to prove you have the required skills. Having a license likely means they can be held accountable if something goes wrong, by appealing to the body that issues the license.
Moreover, specific jobs will require permits. A reputable company will sort this out because it is doing the building work and is therefore responsible for it. Steer well clear of a contractor if they are suggesting conducting work without a permit. They may tell you it’ll save money or even ask you to apply for the licenses. These are immediate red flags, and you should look elsewhere. These types of situations are common and suggest that the contractor has a bad reputation with inspectors. If you apply for the permit, this means you’re taking responsibility for whatever happens with the work on you. That’s particularly bad news if anything goes wrong.
Hiring someone to conduct work on your property can be overwhelming, but often necessary. If your home renovation project requires the work of a contractor, keep the above in mind. This will help you land the right one at the right price!