Q. When considering home improvements, what should you look for when hiring a contractor?
A. Most homeowners will need to hire a contractor for various types of projects. Remodeling projects can improve your lifestyle and living space while adding significant value to your house.
An excellent source of finding a competent and trustworthy contractor is a recommendation from a friend who might have recently had similar work done. You should interview with 2 or 3 contractors to review the project and request an itemized estimate/bid which will give you better control over the process and costs. Itemized bids with a breakdown of materials, labor, permits and fixtures, and scope of work will provide an easier way to compare. It is important to review a payment schedule so that the contractor completes the work to your satisfaction. Ask how change-orders will be handled. This process will also give you some insight regarding the contractor’s communication and organizational skills.
Your contractor should provide references. You can ask to visit a current jobsite as well as recently completed projects. A contractor should provide their place of business (office/home address, not a PO box), and length of time in business along with their local materials suppliers so that you can check on their reputation for creditworthiness. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints on file or google search the contractors for additional information.
Although it is tempting to select a contractor based on the lowest bid, be wary of a lowball bid. Look for an experienced and licensed contractor with proof of current insurance coverage for worker’s compensation and general liability. Depending on the size of the company, ask whether the contractor will be on the jobsite everyday. Whether you are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a home improvement project, your diligent selection of the right contractor will go a long way to making your home improvement project more enjoyable and successful.