7 Steps to Finding Your Contractor
Get Recommendations – Ask your friends and family who they know but make sure that you trust their opinion and most of all that they know you and know how you plan to approach your project. One Contractor may relate to your cousin or friend perfectly but not to you in the same way. Make sure you pick someone that helps you understand the process, is easy to talk to, and gives you confidence that the job will be completed.
Interview – Do a quick phone interview if your list of Contractors is too long to narrow down. Chances are if they have been in business for a while then they are good at what they do so ask questions like, Could you handle this size project? Could you provide me with some of your past clients as references? How many projects would you have at the same time you were working on mine? How long have you used your subcontractors? This should tell you the company’s availability, reliability, attention to detail, and how smooth the project will progress. Do not ask for a general price per square foot. This is setting you or the Contractor up for a let down – they price each aspect of your home or remodel so that both of you are getting the best and right price!
Meet Face to Face – Do they put you at ease? Do you trust their process? Do they know what they are talking about? Do you communicate well together? You are going to spend hours upon hours talking to the people in this company, are you all comfortable together? Get comfortable! It’s a long process that should be enjoyable!
Research – Check to make sure they are licensed with a large enough license to do your project, that they have full general liability and worker’s compensation insurance, call the references they give you, ask to see a current project – is it clean? neat? are the subcontractors courteous and respectful to both the home they are working in and to the Contractor? These are all questions that you should investigate and should help you narrow down your choices. Knowing that subcontractors like and respect the Contractor is a great way to know that the Contractor pays them and that they have a great working relationship which will help your project run smoothly!
Get Bids – Pick a few Contractors to ask for bids. Have your house plans but also be prepared to answer a lot of questions from your Contractor. If they don’t know what kind of counter tops you might be interested in, granite or laminate, how could they give you an accurate price? Be open and honest about your budget and your no compromising must-haves, this helps everyone stay on the same page. To compare bids, make sure that you breakdown what each Contractor is giving you, apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Don’t take the low-ball bid without knowing what might be missing from their price.
Make a Choice – Don’t let price be your guide but consider it as well as the other aspects that are going to play a major role in this project, will your Contractor help you, be honest with you, communicate well with you? Are you comfortable with one another? Do you trust one another? If you get your bids and they are way out of the budget you had planned, be willing to sit down with them to talk about alternative options that may reduce cost and still allow you to complete your project. Let them know as soon as you’ve made your choice, even if you picked the other guy, don’t leave ’em hanging.
Put it in Writing – Make sure EVERYTHING is spelled out from what is going to be included, to the payment schedule, to the unforeseen conditions clause. Let the fun begin!