There is an old saying, “You get what you pay for”
Hiring a contractor can be s-c-a-r-y! Indubitably, you want to ensure you find one who will do quality work, will show up on time, and of course not blow your budget. Not only are we real estate agents, but we love home renovation as well and have actually listened to several podcast episodes on the matter. Here are our quick tips to getting started.
Communication is Key
The right contractor will be easy to talk to and answer all your questions. You want someone who will walk you through what they’re thinking. You also want someone who is reliable and will show up as scheduled. If you’re having a tough time meeting with them from the get-go, they are probably not the right contractor for you. Make sure they understand what you’re asking of them from the start, and they should be asking you questions as well. After meeting with them, have them relay back all the things you want and have them give you an itemized budget. Ask them to break it down for you as much as you need. YOU are hiring THEM, they should be trying to impress you and give you everything you want. Don’t forget that. If you choose to move forward, both you and your contractor should sign this document. Do not continue with them if they will not sign the document.
HOT TIP: You should ask your contractor to show you how to do basic maintenance tasks (we suggest paying them for this, of course). It’s a great idea to work alongside them on easy things so in the future, you can become Mr. Fixit and do your own work.
One of the most important steps in finding a contractor for your home project is to find out what credentials each contractor has. If your contractor has abbreviations behind their name, these are most likely certifications from national trade organizations. These show they have the proper training and belong to organizations that require a code of ethics and professionalism. Ask questions! We cannot stress this enough. Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. If they get hurt on the job, you will not be liable if they have insurance. It is so important to make sure they are a true professional.
Next, read reviews and do your research. What other people say about the contractor can let you in on how they work, communicate, and if they have any recurring problems on the job. Ask your contractor for photos of similar projects they’ve done.
HOT TIP: Most contractors are not one-stop-shops. If you need something special done, such as cabinetry or roofing, go find a contractor that specializes in this. You also might save costs by doing this – maybe one guy is cheaper than the other for certain things. Do not discuss payment with your contractors – meaning, don’t tell one guy how much you’re paying the other guy.
Assess Your Budget
Make sure you have a strict budget in mind. Have your contractor break down prices for you – cost of materials, labor, and miscellaneous expenses. You need to set up a clear schedule of what will be done when. Have your contractor sign both of these. NEVER PAY YOUR CONTRACTORS UP FRONT. It is best to pay as you go, i.e. after you complete this project in the projected time frame, I will pay you for it, and so on. Contractors are rather notorious for not showing up to finish the work if they have already been paid in full, or they only have a couple thousand left to collect. Do NOT let this happen to you. Make sure there is a chunk of change waiting for them at the end (Maybe even a “completion” payment) so they have incentive to finish the job and finish it right.