What to Do Before Selecting a Home Remodeling Contractor?

Kitchen Renovation

You might look at your home and see it’s time for an upgrade. You want to redo your bathroom, patio, living room, or kitchen. However, the job is more involved, and you need help to pull it off. A remodeling contractor can guide you and make your dream come together. Here are some things to do before hiring a home remodeling contractor.

Interview the Contractor

Before choosing a home remodeling contractor, always build rapport to help see if both sides are on the same page. Consider speaking with at least three contractors to help you get better results on finding the ideal expert for your home.

Ask them questions about the projects they’ve done, their experience, and scheduling time to renovate your home. Of course, you want to know what they charge by the hour and if they’re insured. Cover these bases to help you decide whether or not they fit with your goals for the home.

You can get an initial look into what they do and see the comfort level. Remember, you may be working with the contractor for at least a month and want to be clear on everything before the project starts.

Do Some Background Research

If you still have trouble deciding on a contractor, do some background research. Look at the online reviews of the contractors you’ve considered hiring. If you see mainly good reviews, it’s a good indicator that they may be ideal for a project.

Look for red flags that may deter you from working with them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family. They have your best interest in mind.

They may have worked with one of your choices and can tell you their experience.

Know the Contract Details

You want everything mapped out from the start to the completion date. What hours will the contractor and workers do construction on your home? What products and services do they provide?

Do they need you to pay extra fees for specific things? If the contractor doesn’t pay the subcontractors, will you be held liable for this wrongdoing? Make sure that you go through the whole contract and understand it top to bottom. You don’t want it to bite you in the back.

Also, have everything in writing from the agreement, receipts, and payments. Have a physical and electronic copy for safekeeping.

Be thorough in your requirements to help you select the ideal professional renovator to upgrade your home. 

Red Flags You Need To Know Before You Hire A Home Contractor

It can be tough to find the right professional to handle a renovation. Type “local home improvement contractors” into Google and within seconds you’re given countless options. The problem is that you get the good mixed with the bad, and it can be hard to tell which is which at first glance. To complicate the matter, not many people have experience with home remodeling, so they don’t always know what to expect.

This is why it is important to know the red flags when choosing a contractor for your next project. Spotting warning signs of a disreputable or deceptive company means you can put the brakes on the negotiations before you get taken for a ride. As you do more exploration, watch for these warning signs and make sure you don’t make a bad decision.

1. Outdated or Missing References

Word of mouth is a powerful influencer, and contractors know this. That is why most experts are willing to provide the names of past clients. Checking with previous customers is one of the best ways to learn about the quality of work and level of professionalism you can expect to receive. However, if a builder is hesitant to give out references or examples of recent work, be suspicious.

2. Negative Online Reviews

There are multiple places to find online reviews of a contractor’s work, including Yelp and Facebook. Yes, most builders are likely to have at least a few unhappy clients, but look at the bigger picture. If one company has a large number of negative posts, that probably isn’t a coincidence. Pay attention to customers that share many of the same complaints, as this indicates a pattern of performance that might impact your experience.

3. Promising Too Much

It’s always a good idea to research a renovation project and establish a base expectation for the cost and pace of the work. Once you have a general idea of how much time and money it will require, you’ll be able to spot a construction company that is overpromising. If a bid seems excessively low or includes a schedule that appears too quick, do not be fooled. These could be signs that the contractor will cut corners or hit you with unexpected fees. Accept the lowest bid if you are comfortable with it but watch for offers that seem too good to be true.

4. Not Having Proper Documentation

Any builder worth his or her salt will be fully licensed and insured and will have the paperwork to prove it. If you ask a contractor for this documentation and only receive excuses, that’s a bad sign. It could mean that you’re being scammed. Lack of insurance might also put you on the hook for any injuries or damages that occur on your property. Either way, steer clear of this situation.

5. Insisting on Cash-Only Payment

A reputable company should be able to accept payment in cash, check, money order or credit card. However, if the one you choose insists on being paid only with cash, be wary. It could be a sign that the builder is trying to keep your project off the books, or that he or she is planning to take the money and run. Do not take a contractor’s word that you only have one option when paying for the work.

6. Requesting Too Much Money Up Front

There is nothing wrong with a company that asks for a down payment before starting a job. This is very common and often necessary because workers need to secure building materials or other supplies. If, however, you are asked to put up more than half the total cost before anything is done, don’t do it. The contractor could be preparing to ditch you and move to the next town. Instead, it’s best to determine a verifiable payment plan before you begin the project.

7. Working Without a Contract

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect against a scam artist is get everything in writing. Even if you trust the builder, it could become a problem if he or she works without a contract. A legitimate agreement should include an itemized budget, start date and estimated completion date. Additionally, make sure you have language that clarifies how any unexpected changes will be handled, such as contingent costs or schedule extensions.

8. Poor Communication

The success of any renovation will depend on how well you get along with the contractor. If you have difficulty reaching anyone on the phone when you have questions or concerns, it might be time to find someone else. Be realistic, though — these are busy people with a lot on their plates. Generally, 48 hours is a reasonable period to expect a response.

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