How to hire a remodeling contractor

Choosing the wrong home remodeling contractor isn’t like picking the wrong restaurant for dinner. Beyond just a temporary bad experience, you could be left to deal with shoddy work and cheap materials that could make your life harder for years to come.

But with so many remodeling contractors out there, how do you ensure you’re getting a good one—one who will meet deadlines, work efficiently, charge you fairly, and perform top-quality work that turns out as great as (or better than) you expected?

We asked leaders in the industry to share some surefire tips for hiring a remodeling contractor that you’ll be happy with.

Don Torrance

Don Torrance

Community Manager @ PaintZen

  • Research their digital presence. Does the painting company have a web presence? If not a formal website, is there an online footprint of positive Yelp, Facebook, or Google reviews that give credit to their work?
  • Ask your contractor questions. During the walkthrough or when you’re speaking with the contractor over the phone, ask any and all questions that you have for them about the project you’d like to have done at your home. In addition to feeling comfortable that they can answer all of your questions, look out for any red flags if they feel uneasy about answering something or don’t have a solution for any part of the work that needs to be completed in your home.
  • Check their credentials. Find out if your contractor is licensed and insured. Some states don’t require a license so you should look into that first and then be sure that they’re fully covered with insurance in case something happens in your home during the project. Better safe than sorry.
  • Get your quote in writing. Contractors have been known to leave out hidden costs in quotes such as the cost of materials or supplies. When you’re provided with a quote for painting your home, ensure that it’s all-inclusive and covers everything that will be needed for the painting project. The quote should include labor, paint, supplies, tax, and tip.
  • Ask for a referral. If you still want more comfort in knowing that the contractor you’re hiring is a good one then ask them to provide a customer referral. There’s nothing quite like being able to hear from someone either over the phone or over email about how their experience went in working with the contractor.

Here are some tips for hiring a contractor:

  • Contractors have specialties. Make sure you’ve found one that focuses on the project you want done – i.e., bathroom or kitchen, for example.
  • Make sure they have the proper licensing to work. Contractors should be able to show you a physical license during your initial meeting. Also, ensure they have the proper insurance and bonding.
  • Ask for referrals. Ask the referral about their experience – did the contractor stay on price and budget? What were the pain points during their project and how did the contractor help resolve them. Also, ask to see the project they completed.
  • Get an estimate in writing. Make sure the estimate is as detailed and broken down as possible.

Amanda Woolley

Works at Porch.com, a leading home repair and maintenance marketplace.

Shawn Breyer

Your written agreement with the contractor should have a section about the Scope of Work that the contractor agrees to perform on the house. The scope of work usually includes working with the city to obtain permits, ordering materials and equipment, and confirming the house plans. This section will save you a lot of time and money on the back end of the new home build.

When it comes to the quality of the work, don’t assume that you and the contractor are on the same page about the end results. You may be expecting a move-in ready, professionally cleaned home while the contractor usually leaves the house in broom-swept condition.

Sometimes, you can even encounter a contractor that gets 90% finished and proceeds to pull his crew off to work on the next home while sending people back as they free up. This would leave you with an incomplete build. Make sure that your agreement with the contractor has a section stating that they will complete the work in accordance with the local laws and settle on the condition of the home when it is completed. If it comes time to move in and you have issues with the workmanship, you have the right to pursue legal action since you have a binding contract.

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