How to Choose a Contractor: The Ultimate Guide

How to Choose a Contractor: The Ultimate Guide

Building the home of your dreams is a critical milestone in most people's lives. It takes a lot of effort, time, and patience. Once you've selected the area you want to live in, the really important part begins.

Involving the right people in the construction of your house is imperative – choosing the right home contractor is one of the biggest decisions you'll have to make. Your home contractor will be responsible for turning your dream house into a reality. Whether it be remodeling a bathroom, kitchen or backyard, there are several factors you should consider before choosing a home contractor.

Let us take a look at what these criteria are, and what characteristics are necessary for a good home contractor.

Characteristics to Look for in a Good Home Contractor

Whether you're hiring a contractor to build your house or remodeling it, there are certain characteristics and qualities they must have that make them suitable. The qualities to look for are as follows:

1. Trustworthy:

Giving the responsibility of building or remodeling your home is a big task, and not everyone can be trusted with it. Therefore, having a trustworthy contractor is extremely important. While you can't always know their qualities beforehand, use your judgment to see if your contractor has the integrity to take on this job.

2. Passionate:

Someone who is passionate about their work is likely to get the job done better. Therefore, choose someone who does quality work because they're highly satisfied with their job.

3. Adaptable:

The building and construction industry is always evolving. A successful contractor is one who is constantly trying to keep up with the changes, and this includes the diversification and expansion of consistent and reliable products and materials.

4. Highly-recommended:

Those who do their work well will be recommended by others, too. Look up recommendations and reviews, because a contractor worth their rate is bound to garner praise from those they have worked for. Online reviews help in this regard.

Conduct your own research as well before deciding on someone just based on recommendations and make sure to take a look at the contractor's gallery for examples of work.

5. Problem-solver:

When you're building your home or getting some renovations done, there is more than one possible solution available. For example, if there's an energy efficiency upgrade you're looking for, some contractors can recommend installing additional insulation.

The better fix, however, would be to look for air leakages so that they can be sealed properly. Therefore, getting a contractor with problem-solving abilities is always beneficial.

6. Technical abilities:

A good contractor must have all the required technical knowledge to get the work done right. For instance, if a contractor comes to your place and doesn't take measurements to decipher the problem, it's a clear red flag. Collecting data is a part of any home creation or improvement project, which is why the technical details matter so much.

Tips for Hiring a Home Contractor

Before you hire a contractor, there are certain things you should remember to check and evaluate. Here are certain tips to keep in mind while hiring a contractor:

1. Ask for Recommendations

Before you do your own research, it's best to ask around for recommendations. Go to your friends and family to see if they know a good home contractor.

Also, try talking to building inspectors, because they're bound to know the good ones from whom people mostly get the required work done. They're the ones who know the contractors who provide the best options, are available at a decent price, and so on.

2. Conduct Phone Interviews

Once you have a list of contractors to select from, you can conduct phone interviews to know them better. Some of the questions to ask during these interviews include:

  1. Have they taken on projects of your size?
  2. Can they provide financial references if they can give you a list of their previous clients?
  3. Can they work on multiple projects at the same time?
  4. How long have they been associated with their subcontractors?

When you have the answers to these questions, you can know more about their reliability, availability, and how much time will they be able to give to your project.

3. Have a Face-to-Face Meeting

Los Altos, CA

After the phone interviews have been conducted, pick some of the contractors you like best and meet them to take the discussion further. Make sure that the contractor answers your questions clearly and in a manner that makes you feel at ease.

Since this person is going to be in charge of your home for quite a while, it's important that you communicate well with them. However, even if you're impressed with their personality, don't let it be the end-all of the discussion.

Contact the consumer protection agency of your state and also the local bureau so that they can provide you with a list of the history of disputes your contractor could have had with his clients and subcontractors.

4. Verify References

Once you've conducted some amount of research, it's now time to check the validity of the facts yourself. Call up the previous clients of the contractor to ask how the previous project went, and try to show up to see the finished product.

If possible, try to visit the site where the contractor is currently working, so as to witness how they are at work.

This will give you a slight idea of their efficiency and work ethic. See if the job site is neat and safe, if the workers are courteous and careful with the property of the owner, and so on.

5. Checking License and Insurance

Before hiring a contractor, the first step is to ensure that the contractor has a license or insured by the state. You can easily do this by checking online to make sure that they are insured. When you check for their license, it will indicate whether the contractor has any violation or previous lawsuits. This information will provide you with details regarding the contractor’s reliability.

Each state has different regulations regarding contractor licenses. It’s vital to make sure that your contractor complies with the rules and regulations. Keep in mind that a lot can happen during a project. If there’s a particular injury or damage, it can easily be covered under a contractor that is properly licensed or insured. That way, you won’t have to break the bank from any unforeseen accidents.

6. Make Plans and Get Bids

Fremont, CA

Now that you have a list of contractors whose records look clean and whose work ethic seems responsible, it's time to stop evaluating their past work and actually look forward to your project. A good contractor will not only require a complete set of blueprints, but also what homeowners require out of a project, how much they want to spend, and so on.

In order to compare your bids, you need to ask everyone to break down the cost related to materials, labor, profit margins, and other expenses, too. Materials usually take up about 40% of the total cost. The rest is related to overhead and typical profit margins, which can account for 15 or 20 percent.

7. Fix a Payment Schedule

Working out a payment schedule beforehand is very important. Payment schedules, in fact, say a lot about the work ethic and financial status of a contractor.

In case they ask for half the bid upfront, it could mean they either they're worried they won't get paid after you see their work, or that they have financial issues.

In case of huge projects, a payment schedule usually begins with 10% while signing the contract, along with three payments of 25% evenly distributed throughout the course of the project, and a check for the last 15%, once you feel almost every item on the list, has been

8. Put it in Writing

Drawing up a contract that states everything clearly is crucial. It's not just about trust. It's more about ensuring that your home gets built well.

The contract should include details such as payment schedule, proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments, start date and approximate date of completion, the materials and products to be used, and a requirement from your side stating that the contractor obtains releases from all the suppliers and subcontractors.

The last one is so as to protect you in case the contractor doesn't pay his bills.

9. Choose a Contractor Who Specializes in Your Project Type

Researching contractors also becomes important to find out if they have enough experience in the kind of project you're looking into. Since so many projects these days are regulated and code-specific, you need to have someone aware of the details of what you require.

Professional contractors often take classes and research beforehand about the arena of the project they're about to take on. This is what makes them experts in their fields. It also allows them to address potential issues and do the work perfectly.

A good contractor is one who knows how to anticipate the nuances of the work. When asking several contractors for a bid, see to it that all of them are making use of the same set of specifications and plans. Comparing estimates from contractors who use different brands of materials is difficult.

Looking for a contractor to remodel your home? Get started with Future Vision Remodeling to transform your space!