Hiring a contractor can be a confusing, daunting challenge. You are putting your home in his hands. If he is good, you have nothing to worry about. If he isn’t good, then you would end up with a messed up house, outrageous bills or even legal troubles. So how do you find a good contractor? These tips will give you some direction.
When you can, opt for a local contractor. Chances are, if the contractor has been around for a while, he is pretty good. If he was dishonest or late of payments or did not do good work, he would have likely been put out of business long ago. Plus, if he is local, you would have heart about any bad reputation. Check around and interview contractors who are in your city or in a nearby city, the closer proximity to you, the better.
Talk to your family and friends. See who they use and what their opinion is of that person. Your next step is to check with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. They will be able to provide you a list of local contractors in your area. Another idea is to talk to a building inspector. He can tell you which contractors regularly meet code requirements and breeze through inspections. Building material suppliers can also be a good source of information. They interact with contractors on a regular basis and can tell you who uses quality materials and who scrimps on the cheap stuff. They can also tell you who keeps their accounts up to date and are not delinquent.
Take some time to talk to several contractors. Ask them if they take on projects such as yours and if they have any experience with your type of project. You would also want to know how many projects they would have going at the same time they are working on yours. It is a good idea to request a list of clients they have worked with in the past along with contact information. They will give you a list of references. You should ask the contractor to provide you with financial references. This can be banks or building material suppliers. Ask if they will use subcontractors and if yes, how long they have worked with the subcontractors.
Once you have collected your information start doing your homework. Contact clients the contractor has worked with. Ask how the contractor and his crew worked at the home, if they were respectful and careful with the property. Ask if the client was pleased with the results – then ask if you can see the finished work. If you can, visit an active job site and see firsthand how the contractor and his crew work on a job site. Observe how they conduct themselves and how the work. Think about whether you want someone like that working on your property in your home.
Once you have narrowed the prospects, you can have a face to face meeting to discuss your blueprints or plans of the project. At this meeting you should talk about a payment schedule. The contractor’s response here can be very telling. If he wants a large chunk up front, it could be that he has some money issues. It could also mean that he is concerned that you will withhold pay after you see his work. It may not be the case, but it is better to err on the side of caution. If he wants a large upfront payment, you probably want to move on to a contractor who is more stable and established.