When choosing a contractor to head up your remodel, these simple steps can mean the difference between complete confidence and sleepless nights.
Ask for Referrals Word of mouth-hands down, is the best way to find a qualified professional to tackle the job. Ask relatives, friends and neighbors whom they've had good experiences with. And ask what made it a positive experience, how the contractor handled problems and whether he or she would use the same contractor again.
Look at Credentials With recommendations in hand, do some preliminary research, whether it's with a phone call or a visit to the contractor's website. Find out whether he or she holds all the required licenses from state and local municipalities, along with designations from any professional associations. Be aware, however, that not all certifications are created equal. Do some homework and find out the requirements.
Interview Candidates Narrow down the list of contenders and set up meetings. Try to keep it to three contractors, because things can get confusing beyond that. How a contractor answers questions is extremely important, but communication goes both ways. Candidates should ask plenty of questions, too.
Check References Ask to see some of the contractors' projects. If you approve of them, request references and call contractors' former customers to check up on them. Ask how the contractors did at executing the projects. Were they on time and on budget? Were the customers pleased with the outcome? Was there anything that could have been done differently?
Remember that when you're hiring a remodeler, you are buying a service and not a product. Quality of service will determine the quality of the finished project. Here are some things you'll want to explore and questions you'll want to ask when interviewing a remodeler.
Business Experience and Management Does the remodeler:
1: Maintain a permanent mailing address, e-mail address, personal phone number, fax number, cell phone and voicemail?
2: Carry insurance that protects you from liability? Ask for a copy of the remodeler's insurance certificates to be sure. Also, ask the remodeler how much the project will add to the home's value and attain additional insurance from your provider.
3: Have an established presence in the community? How long has the company been in business under this name? Does the remodeler maintain solid relationships with contractors such as plumbers and electricians and work with them as a team?
4: Possess a trustworthy reputation among customers and peers? Is there a track record of success?
Get It in Writing After selecting a contractor, take a look at the documents he or she has prepared. Do they look professional? Scrutinize the contract. Does it seem fair and balanced? And make sure the legal agreement includes the following:
a bid price and payment schedule
specifics about the scope of work
a change-order clause
If everything checks out, you can sign on the dotted line with confidence.