So, you want to start a home improvement project but are unsure how to find a qualified and trustworthy remodeling contractor. There are a lot of contractors out there but you need to find one that will finish your project on-time and within budget. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you find the remodeling contractor that you feel comfortable working with.
1. Get Recommendations
Word of mouth is the best way to find a trustworthy contractor. If you know someone who has had a good experience with one, start there.
Another good source to research a contractor is Angie’s List. Does the company you’re considering hiring have negative reviews – and if so, are they valid? (There are times when a homeowner will give a company a bad review without even hiring them.) How many “A” level reviews does the company have? Has the company received the Angie’s List Super Service Award?
A third way is to Google local companies and check out their online reviews. You can also contact national associations to see if your choices are accredited members.
2. Look at Credentials
Once you have your recommendations, start checking them out. Visit their website or make a phone call. Make sure they have all appropriate licenses and insurance certificates as well as any designations from professional associations like the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
3. Check References
Contact former clients to find how their project went and ask to see the finished product. Better yet, visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works. Is the job site neat and safe? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner’s property? Remember that when you’re hiring a remodeler, you’re buying a service and not a product. Quality of service will determine the quality of the finished project. It’s a good idea to even check with your local Better Business Bureau. If you can’t find any information on them with the BBB then they are most likely complaint free.
4. Interview Candidates
Once you have your list of candidates narrowed down, you can and should start the interview process. Start by calling them and asking questions like:
• How many projects do they work on simultaneously (leading to how much time they will spend on your project and how long it will take to complete)
• Do they have employees or sub-contractors? If subs, how long have they been working with them?
• Do they pull permits and handle all the required inspections?
• How many projects have they done that are like yours?
• Do they produce a schedule for your jobs, and if so will you have access to the schedule?
• How are change orders handled?
• How are selections made?
This is also a good time to set up a face to face at your home to review your plans and ask any follow-up questions. If they ask you to come out to your home–even better. It means that they are interested in you and your project and want to get more details.
5. Business Management
• Ask the remodeler how much the project will add to the home’s value and attain additional insurance from your provider.
• Check with the Minnesota Department of Labor to look up the company’s contractor’s license to make sure they are in good standing with the State.
• What does the company’s web site look like? If the web site is not a professional-looking, well designed web site with a quality photo gallery – why? This is their chance to show you their best work and if the website is not an impressive site – what will their work look like?
• How do they manage their projects? Do they use a cloud base construction management tool such as Builder Trend? These types of tools are useful in scheduling your project, uploading blue prints, cabinet drawings, etc., and communicating with you.
Does the remodeler:
• Maintain a permanent mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and voicemail?
• Carry the proper insurance? Ask for a copy of insurance certificates to be sure. Ask the company what their insurance limits are – do they only carry the state minimum? Once you hire a contractor, ask them to have their insurance company issue a certificate of liability insurance with your name and address listed as certificate holder. This certificate will also show you the policy effective dates, the amount of limits (anything below $ 1,0000,000 is to low), the auto liability for company vehicles; if they have an umbrella policy and if so – it’s limit; and their workman compensation coverage.
• Have an established presence in the community? How long has the company been in business? Does the remodeler maintain solid relationships with sub-contractors if necessary?
• Possess a trustworthy reputation among customers and peers? Is there a track record of success?
6. Get it in Writing
Make sure the contract details each step of the project:
• Scope of work (what is included – and what is NOT in included in the project)
• Schedule or timeline
• Expectations and performance guidelines
• Cost of the project
• Payment schedule
You have a big project in mind; one that will significantly impact your lifestyle and home value. So it’s important to choose the right remodeling contractor to make sure that your investment is a sound one. Once you have completed a thorough vetting of your candidates, it’s time to choose. After all of this investigation you should feel very comfortable with your choice and be able move forward with confidence.
If you have any questions about remodeling contractors or the hiring process of a remodeler, please feel free to call Country Creek Builders at 952-484-9812 or visit our website.