Choosing the Right Contractor for Your Next Home Project
Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Your choice of contractor can make or break any home improvement project — don't be left with any regrets! From simple handyman services to more extensive home remodels, choosing the right contractor is the best way to make sure your money's well-spent and the results meet your expectations.
There are many factors one can consider when choosing a contractor for any home project including price, availability, reputation, and more. But with a wide array of contractors all vying for your business, where do you even start?
Trust Your Instincts
According to Popular Mechanics, the best way to begin selecting a contractor for your next project is to "go with your gut." Depending on the project, your contractor will be spending days, weeks and maybe even months in and around your home, amongst your family, pets, and possessions. As Tony LaPelusa, former president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry told PM, "you have to trust your contractor 100 percent, not 95 percent." If at any point a prospective contractor gives you reason to question their integrity, it's best to move on to the next one.
Ask All the Questions
You wouldn't be hiring a professional contractor to work on your home if you could easily perform the same job yourself. And whether you're well-versed in the intricacies of the project or not, the right contractor will make sure all your questions are answered to satisfaction during every stage of the project. Don't be afraid to ask any and all questions you may have — and keep asking more as they arise! The best contractors will be happy to answer you without delay or making you feel silly for seeking more information. Showing interest and understanding in their work goes also goes a long way in building trust and accountability as well.
Limit Your Liability
The term "licensed and insured" is more than just standard marketing language contractors use, it denotes their ability to perform certain tasks to the highest professional standards as well as cover the cost of any damages resulting from their work. Without the proper licenses, your contractor's work may not meet essential requirements to pass needed inspections, and without insurance you could be held liable for any damage to your home, your neighbors homes, or injuries sustained by the workers — what a nightmare! Make sure your contractor is up-to-date on any licenses needed for your particular project, and fully insured before signing anything. Lastly, Popular Mechanics says to look into the contractor's legal status to avoid the possibility of a lien being placed on your home. If your contractor owes, for example, a lumber yard the cost of materials for your project and doesn't pay, you may be held liable for those costs even if you paid your contractor in full! Lien laws vary from state to state, so make sure you understand the "mechanic's lien" laws in your area.
Do Your Research
It's easy to type your home improvement project into an internet search bar and see a variety of contractors ready to do business with you with one easy click, but finding the best contractor among that list of names takes a little more sleuthing. Take the time to visit their website and social media pages to see examples of their work and learn more about their business. Customer reviews are a great resource for additional information too — you'd be surprised how much you can learn from what past and present customers are saying about a company, good and bad! While you're at it, ask your prospective contractor exactly who will be preforming the work. You don't want to take the time getting to know a particular contractor only to find them sending a subcontractor you know nothing about to complete the job you hired them to do. While it is commonplace for a contractor to "sub-out" work to subcontracting specialists for larger, more intricate projects, smaller projects should be handled by the person who said they can do the work, or their employees. Sub contracting smaller jobs is a common tactic some companies use to maximize their revenue for quicker jobs and cut overhead expenses, often at the expense of the homeowner, and can lead to shoddy workmanship, hidden fees, and other problems without recourse. If you can't find any of this information online, don't be afraid to ask them upfront!
Local contractors with a long history of work in your area are usually a reliable and good place to start, according to PM — if they weren't good at what they do they wouldn't have lasted this long! Bonus points may also be awarded if the company supports local nonprofits, military and first responders, and other civic engagements close to your heart. Supporting businesses aligned with your beliefs is another way to foster a trusting relationship with your contractor, as well as making sure your money goes on to support the people and organizations you'd want it to in the future!
No matter the scope of your home improvement project, choosing the right contractor to complete the job is a big decision. Trusting your instincts, asking questions and doing your research can go a long way in ensuring you choose the perfect contractor to complete the task at had.
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