Hiring a contractor doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process when you know exactly what your project requires
General contractors are responsible for making sure your home improvement project goes well and wraps up on time. So, finding and hiring the best contractor is one of the most important parts of the process because it can make all the difference in your project’s outcome.
Before Hiring Your Contractor
Hiring the right contractor is an essential step in the home renovation process. You’ll want to research past projects and check their credentials to ensure the contractor has the proper legal documents and is licensed to work.
Plan Your General Contractor’s Project for Accurate Quotes
You’ll have a better overall experience if you set the tone for clear communication early on in the process. Clear communication is important during any home renovation project; it leaves less room for error and additional costs since your contractor will know exactly what you want and how to deliver. When communication isn’t clear, it could result in cost overruns.
Check Your General Contractor’s Qualifications and References
This step is perhaps the most important. You should get several references from a contractor—usually previous customers for the last six months to one year. A reputable, well-established contractor should welcome this request. Once you get the references, call them. Ask if the job concluded on time and at the agreed-upon price and if the contractor was easy to reach and deal with. Most people will be frank. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau for information regarding complaints filed against any contractor.
Get Several Quotes
Reach out to several contractors and get at least three written quotes before moving forward with your decision. Speaking with several contractors will give you a clearer picture of the overall scope of work and costs. Watch out for any quotes that appear to be too low. While the cost may appeal to your budget, the quality of the work may not be as professional as needed for your job.
Questions to Ask Your General Contractor
If you want to choose the right contractor, you must ask the right questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Ask questions like:
- Do you carry general liability insurance?
- Do you carry workers’ compensation insurance?
- Will you provide me with written lien waivers? (A lien waiver is a form of receipt for payment of services and materials. It ensures that subcontractors and suppliers have received payments and that your property won’t face liens.)
- Will you acquire all the required building permits?
- How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year?
- How do you handle changes in the scope of work?
- Are you licensed by the Contractors State License Board?
- Does your work come with a warranty?
- What is the timeline for this project?
Hiring Your Pro
Once you’re ready to call in a pro, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you’ve hired the right contractor for your project.
Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your General Contractor
Avoid entering into a verbal agreement with any general contractor. Make sure you get everything in writing before the project starts so that the scope of work and payment arrangements are clear. Have an attorney review the contract to make sure you are protected, especially if there’s a significant investment.
The contract should mention:
- a step-by-step overview of the work needed to complete the project and the cost.
- the timeline of the project and the estimated time of completion.
- payment deadlines so you know when to pay for the project.
- specific materials your contractor plans to use.
- warranties and possible permit fees. (This will depend on the permits needed in your city or county. Information about the permits required in your area can be found by contacting your local government.)
- disclosure statements so that you are aware of lien releases.
Depending on the clauses, you and your contractor can amend the contract. However, if you make any changes, all parties must agree before moving forward.
After Your General Contractor Has Finished
When the project is over, meet with your contractor to schedule a final walk-through. During this stage, you’ll be able to inspect the renovation together and ask any questions you may have about the finished project. If you’re happy with the work, you’ll need to sign an affidavit to wrap up the project. This is a legal document that confirms the project’s completion.