5 Steps to Choosing a Home Renovation Contractor

5 Steps to Choosing a Home Renovation Contractor
  • Opening Intro -

    When it comes time to venture out into the contractor market, it can be a downright scary thought, but it doesn't have to be.

    I will take you through everything you will need to know to navigate the waters of the home improvement world and come out with a good contractor that will save you most of the headaches of remodeling your house.

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So you want to change the look and arrangement of your home but aren’t a contractor; who are you going to trust with the biggest, most expensive, investment in most of our lives?

This can seem like a daunting or even downright scary thought when it comes time to venture out into the contractor market, but it doesn’t have to be. I will take you through everything you will need to know to navigate the waters of the home improvement world and come out with a good contractor that will save you most of the headaches of remodeling your house.

1. The Plan

The very first thing you will want to do is make a plan. Even if you are not too creative you can make a basic plan of all the changes you would like to see and things they might entail.

For example, it could be that you want to update your family den, and that might entail new windows, a paint job, new floors and a face lift for the old fire place. The more details you can put in your plan the easier it will be for you and the contractor you choose in the end, but just a basic plan of what you want done will work just fine.

The next part of the planning stage is to find out if you will need permits or not. It is really a much easier task than most people think; all you need to do is go online and perform a web search for your local development office and find their phone number or address.

After you have the number or address you can choose between calling or going in to the office, explain to the staff what you want to do, and asking if you will need a permit. They will know what you need and will be able to inform you of every task that will or possibly will need a permit.

2. Looking For A Contractor

Now that your plan is complete you need to look for a contractor. A simple web search will result in an overwhelming number of contractors to choose from and the first way to narrow your list is to visit their web sites.

Now you will need to use your senses to weed out people who simply don’t care, look for professional looking and sounding sites with lots of information about the company and their services. You’re more specifically looking for a company that cares enough to either put a good deal of money or time and effort into how they present themselves to you, you will find this narrows your list a great deal.

3. Reading Reviews

Looking up reviews on each contractor on your list will be your next step. Take your time and look up as many reviews as you can find on each contractor, paying closer attention to the details of the bad reviews and how those people’s problems could relate to your job.

The Better Business Bureau is another great resource available to potential customers, I would be inclined to say it is one of the best tools available for checking if a company you are about to hire is credible.

If you can’t find any reviews on a company it is probably a very new company and, unless they have a full explanation of the experience they have on their website, it would be in your best interest to go with a different contractor.

4. Contacting Potential Contractors

It’s time to start calling the contractors you have now chosen as potentials to work on your project. This call is partially to get your initial “feel” for the contractor as well as to set up your, usually free, quote.

You will need to give the contractor a basic explanation of the job you intend to get done and inform whomever you are talking to that you will need them to bring extensive references for you to call, as well as pictures of previous projects they’ve completed if there weren’t many on their site.

We invite you to download without registration our contractor evaluation sheet. It summarizes everything you need to valuate and select a contractor:

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You should also ask, at this time, if they offer any warranty or guarantee on the work and/or materials they supply.

A quote with a good contractor should run smoothly, especially since you were prepared with your plan, and only end once you’ve gone over and discussed everything you want done in great detail. They should address the permits they will need, but feel free to ask about them if they don’t; if they say anything different than what the staff at the development office has told you, take that as a huge red flag.

They should also take basic measurements at this time unless you have set up a separate time for this. Go through their references with them before they leave and get a basic knowledge of which references will be from jobs closer to the one you want done.

5. Choosing A Contractor

Once you’ve gotten through all of the references and received all your quotes you should have a pretty good idea of who you want to complete your renovation.

If you’re still having trouble at this point, it may be a good idea to set up a pro/con list for each of your finalists and tally their scores against each other, if that doesn’t work they’re probably both good contractors and you can feel confident flipping a coin to choose.

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