Whether you are tackling a single room or a full-scale renovation, renovating your home is a major undertaking. If you are only updating a few fixtures or surfaces, you might be able to do the majority of the work yourself or hire professionals for tasks like tiling or cabinetry installation. However, if the project requires a complete overhaul of the room, hiring a general contractor may be worthwhile. Contractors, as experts in construction and remodeling, can manage all of the necessary permits, inspections, labor, equipment, and materials to ensure your remodel goes off without a hitch.
1. Before hiring a contractor, know exactly what you want.
You, as the client, control the process. Consider your project goals before speaking with contractors, such as what it might look like, what amenities you want, and so on. If you are unsure how to translate your goals into specific features or products, consult with a design consultant or a design-build firm.
2. Obtain bids from several contractors.
Before making a decision, gather at least three estimates from different contractors. More quotes will give you a better idea of how these companies compare to one another. Not only will you gain a better understanding of appropriate costs, but you will also gain an understanding of the quality of work that each contractor will provide. For example, one contractor may offer a low rate and subpar work, whereas another’s high bid may indicate quality.
3. Conduct background checks.
Even if a friend or relative has previously recommended a contractor, you should set some minimum qualifications. Obtain the full company name and address, as well as proof of a current state license and adequate insurance coverage. Obtain license and policy numbers, then verify that they are current. Check to see if any formal complaints or legal actions have been filed or are pending.
4. Look into a contractor’s work history and habits.
Some contractors are specialists, while others are generalists, so make sure their qualifications are applicable to your project. Examine their work in person, looking for three things: some resemblance to your project, high-quality materials and workmanship, and consistent client satisfaction. Keep an eye out for small signs of professionalism, or a lack thereof. Do you get timely responses to your phone calls? Meetings and appointments kept? Do the company’s vehicles and dress code reflect pride and cleanliness? Inattention to minor details may have a negative impact on work quality.
5. Define job site boundaries.
Inform the company that you anticipate routine safeguards, such as employee background checks for anyone who will have access to your home. Establish ground rules for parking, bathroom use, smoking, and any other issues that may arise during the project.
6. Understand what you will be paying for.
Some businesses offer free estimates, but if the project exceeds a few thousand dollars, the contractor will most likely prepare a scope of work proposal. Typically, this proposal will break down the job budget into line-item costs for labor, materials, fees, and so on, or will at the very least provide specifics about the tasks the contractor will perform and the products that will be used. If the bid is accepted, the proposal fee is frequently paid in advance and applied to the project cost.
7. Develop a strategy for resolving disagreements.
Any contractor you hire will become a permanent fixture in your life for the duration of the project. Choose someone with whom you can communicate, and trust your instincts if first impressions make you uneasy. To protect both parties, reputable professionals will insist on clear written agreements. In the initial meetings, inquire about how unexpected issues or differences will be handled. Change orders or more serious disputes, such as unintended damage or a failure to meet legal or reasonable standards, can fall under this category.