5 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Finding the perfect general contractor for your remodeling project can ensure a job well done and greatly reduce the amount of stress and added expenses along the way.

Finding the perfect general contractor for your remodeling project can ensure a job well done and greatly reduce the amount of stress and added expenses along the way.

A general contractor is licensed to oversee and coordinate construction jobs with multiple tasks—like a complete kitchen remodel or a whole-house renovation. It's definitely possible to coordinate certain projects by yourself—for example, hiring someone to install flooring or a new toilet—but when it comes to the more ambitious projects with lots of moving parts, general contractors are better equipped to manage them.

Here's how you can find the right general contractor for your project.

1. Identify your project and timeline

Begin by determining what it is you're hoping to accomplish with this project. Do some research to find inspiration and save images that reflect your vision of the project.

You should have a list of things you want to accomplish, ordered by importance. Start with the 'must-haves' and then go from there. It's also helpful to have a rough sketch of what you envision for the project. When identifying your project expectations, consider the trade-offs you're willing to make as well. Say you want to add on a room without increasing square footage. That would mean losing space elsewhere. If that won't work for you, consider alternatives.

2. Research local general contractors

Now that you've identified your project goals, consider the scope of your project and what you'll want in a contractor. Ideally, you want to find a contractor who has worked on a similar project in the past.

Look through reviews and seek out referrals to help you create a list of local, qualified general contractors. If you have family, friends, or co-workers who have done similar projects in the past, definitely ask for their recommendations. You can also check out reputable sites for general contractors in your area.

Before you contact a contractor:

  • Check licenses. Check out your state licensing agency's website to confirm that they have a current, valid license.
  • Verify other designations. Confirm any association memberships or optional certifications either online or by phone.
  • Confirm workers' compensation coverage and liability insurance. Workers' compensation covers potential expenses such as lost wages and medical bills in the event of a worker being injured on the job. Employers are generally required by law to carry worker's compensation, but if your contractor doesn't carry it, and their employee is injured while working on your property, you may be liable. If you can't find the information online, ask your contractor to supply their policy information and call to confirm the policy is active.

3. Interview your prospects

Once you've curated a list of potential contractors for your project, set up brief phone calls with each of them and narrow down whom you want to meet with in person. In addition to any questions about their insurance coverage and licenses, you may also want to ask:

  • What work do you specialize in?
  • How much experience do you have?
  • Have you worked on a similar project before?
  • What parts of this project might be most challenging?
  • What's a typical timeline for a project like this?
  • What are the terms of payment for a project like this?
  • Do you have a list of references to share?

When looking into references, it's especially valuable to speak with the contractor's current or former clients. Any homeowners currently working with the contractor can let you know of any issues in real-time. Those who have completed projects with the contractor can share any potential workmanship concerns now that their project has had time to settle.

4. Receive detailed estimates

If you and the contractor both feel the project could be a good fit, arrange a meeting to discuss specifics. Once they have a full understanding of what you want to accomplish in your space and what it will take to make that happen, they will be able to put an estimate together.

Before you commit to anything, ensure you get an estimate that's detailed and thorough. Lack of specificity is a red flag and may cause you to pay more than expected in the end.

5. Make your decision and finalize contract details

After you've collected a few estimates, it's time to pick a contractor! Of course, cost is a factor to consider, but remember to look at the big picture. Which contractor do you think is the best suited to take on this project? Whom do you feel the most comfortable working with?

Be wary of estimates that appear too low for the work your project will require. Even if the bids only differ by a few hundred dollars, they can be misleading unless you're aware of exactly what's covered in the proposals. Maybe one estimate includes waste removal and another does not.

The terms of the contract should clearly lay out project details and contingencies. Before they begin any work on your project, verify once again that they have liability insurance and workers' compensation for their employees and any subcontractors who will be working on your home.

Do not rely on verbal agreements and keep all your records—including the contract, copies of payments, written correspondence, photos, and your notes—in a safe place where you can easily reference them.

Country Creek Builders for your next project

Our licensed contractors are dedicated to making your project dreams a reality—on budget and on time. With decades of experience, we know exactly how to properly manage and complete your project. Our specialties include additions, basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. Visit our website to request a free estimate, or give us a call at (952) 484 9812—we're happy to answer any questions!