In order for your project to get done right, progress smoothly, and get completed in a timely fashion, it is important to find the right contractor. Here are some things to keep in mind as you search for your ‘perfect’ contractor.
1. Strong Communication Skills
The most successful contractors are good communicators. Home renovations can be stressful, so it’s important that a contractor listens and understands what you are looking to accomplish. It’s essential that they stay in touch with you regarding schedules, changes, progress, and possible delays. You should feel that you are being kept in the loop at all times!
2. Experience with your Project Type
You’ll want to find a contractor that is a good match for your project type and scope. Not all contractors do all types of work. Inquire when you first speak with them. Do they stick to gutting spaces, disconnecting/reconnecting plumbing, minor electrical work, and painting? Or do they have experience with additions, foundations, moving walls, adding support beams, etc.? Ask what percentage of each is part of their total projects in any given year; additions, kitchens, baths, decks, etc.
You could ask for an expected timeline for a project like yours, i.e., “from start to finish, how long should I expect my kitchen renovation to take?” Be sure to ask questions like “how long have you been in business?” and “how many projects do you have going on at any one time?” A good contractor will know the answers to any question you may have, and will be happy to answer them for you.
3. Ask who will be Doing the Work?
Will the person you hire be doing the work or will they be hiring subcontractors for certain parts of the project e.g., electrical, plumbing, windows, roofing? It’s often a positive thing to have these professionals be part of your renovation as they may know more and be better suited to do that part of your project. A good contractor will have reliable subs that show up when scheduled. It’s nice to know ahead of time who will be at your house and when.
4. What’s the Best Way to Find a Contractor?
One way to find a contractor is to ask a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or relative, that has had a similar project completed at their house. They may have had a very positive (or negative) experience with a particular contractor, and will be happy to share their thoughts!
If you have an electrician, plumber, or painter that you trust, these trades can also be great sources of recommendations. They are often working on job sites, and they come across and have experience with many companies and contractors.
If you are getting products or materials from a vendor or provider, they too may have contractors they recommend. At Dean Cabinetry, we work with many types of contractors. Our goal is to find the best contractor for you, based on your location, the scope of your project, and your timeline. We are happy to recommend one that would be a great fit for your project.
5. Are Online Reviews or Client Feedback helpful?
Absolutely! Reading reviews of contractors is a great way to get a feel for their character, quality of work, timeliness, and pricing. Go online and check out their Facebook, Instagram, and website for reviews. We also recommend you do a search for Google reviews and see if there are any reviews posted.
A written list of references from past clients would also be an excellent way to get feedback from people that were in your shoes at one point. A quality contractor should have a list of happy clients who would be glad to take a few minutes to share their experience.
Here is a list of questions that could provide insight into their project:
Did the contractor stay on schedule?
Was communication clear?
Were issues addressed promptly?
Did the job get completed at the proposed budget?
Would you hire this contractor again?
6. Should I ask for Photos of their Previous Projects?
Yes! Contractors should be thrilled to show you photos of prior renovations. If they have a website, Instagram, or Facebook, they should be posting their photos. If they don’t, they should at least have photos of recent projects on their phone or computer and should be happy to share them.
7. Do I need a Contract?
A good contractor should prepare a contract for you to review and sign off on. It should cover costs, brands of items being installed, and timeframes with an approximate start and completion date. If a specific detail has not been ironed out yet, the contract can include allowances for items, such as “$300 for a kitchen sink”. The contract is important as it sets down expectations upfront so there are no surprises at the end.
8. Listen to your Gut
Keep in mind that this contractor could be in your home for days, weeks, or even months, depending on the size of your project, so you will want to be sure you feel comfortable with them. The overall success of your project depends on your partnering with the ‘right’ contractor. One who specializes in your type of project, and consistently receives the highest quality feedback regarding their workmanship and professionalism. If anything about them does not feel right, then keep looking.