At some point in the home buying process, even those skilled in home repair will find themselves in need of a professional contractor or renovator. It is essential to choose a contractor with whom you can work effectively in order to achieve your desired results at the price you can afford.
Any contractor you consider should have the technical skills required to do your renovations. However, people often overlook the equally essential business and interpersonal skills that can make all the difference between a good relationship with your contractor versus a situation that leaves you dissatisfied, broke, and, in some cases, forced to invest in additional professionals to re-do or fix the problems the initial contractor either created or overlooked.
So how do you know if a contractor meets the minimum qualifications to suit your needs? Here are some basic tips to consider:
· Use word-of-mouth referrals to seek out several reputable contractors who have done the kind of work you are contemplating. Ask about dependability , the quality of work, and t overall experience. Inquire through local homebuilder and renovator associations, building supply stores, and the building department.
· Meet with prospective contractors to discuss your plans. Be prepared to ask some essential questions at this meeting, such as:
o How long have you been in business?
- What work are you, or your subcontractors, licensed to do, e.g., electrical, plumbing?
- What kind of work do you specialize in?
- Have you done a similar job before?
- Will you use your own crew for the work or will you subcontract all or part of the job?
- How would you handle a specific problem related to this project (e.g., installing kitchen cabinets on your sloping floor)?
- How will you deal with the health and energy efficiency aspects of the job?
- How and when do you clean up, particularly fine dust?
- What work schedule will you follow?
- What kind of warranty do you offer and what does it cover?
- Do you carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance?
- Will you provide a written contract?
- Will you take out all required permits (e.g., building, plumbing, electrical)?
o If the contractor plans to do the whole job alone, make sure he or she has all the necessary skills and qualifications.
· Communication is essential, so make sure you feel comfortable talking to the contractor. You want someone who will explain each step of the project (including any problems that arise).
· Obtain at least three previous clients who have had similar work done. Talk to each reference about their experience with the contractor and their satisfaction with the quality of the work.
· If the previous clients are willing, visit them to see the finished job. Their willingness itself is usually a sign that they were satisfied. Check with your local Better Business Bureau. It records complaints about contractors in your community.