At first glance, it would seem like the easiest way to find a remodeling contractor would be to just Google them. Of course if you did so, you’ll probably find more than enough candidates to choose from. And surely they must be the right ones for the job, because their website says so, right? Truth is, their online presence may be a helpful tool in your search, but it doesn’t provide the whole picture. When it comes to finding a contractor to remodel your home, some of the older methods are still the best.
First off, ask friends, relatives and neighbors of any contractors that they’ve had a good experience with. Getting personal recommendations from those you trust can be the best way to find a qualified professional contractor. That way you can see firsthand, the work that had been done. Ask if they had had any positive experiences with the contractor and if they would hire them again. If you are lucky enough to assemble a few choices using this method, then it would be perfectly reasonable to look them up online and discover more about them before giving a call. Things that you will want to know while deciding which contractor is best for you are:
- The scope of their work. Are they experienced in the sort of job that you are looking for?
- Check their credentials. Find out if they hold any required licenses and if they have earned designations or certificates from any professional associations. Keep in mind however, that further research may be needed to verify whether or not the professional associations they refer to are legitimate.
- Do they carry insurance?
- Are they local? It’s often helpful to learn whether or not they have an established presence in the community. Many firmly rooted contractors have business relationships with local lumber yards, plumbers, and electricians.
- Is there a track record of their success? See if you get a sense that they have a trustworthy reputation among their peers as well as their customers.
- Beyond your family and friends, see if there are referrals available, willing to talk about their experience with the contractor.
If you are able to narrow down your choices to at least three, now would be the appropriate time to contact them for an estimate and an opportunity to meet up, face-to-face. During this time, you can ask them additional questions and get a sense of whether they are someone you could work with. Are they able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in in a way that puts you at ease? Communication is important, since they will be in your home for long periods of time. Find out other things such as whether or not they will be working on other projects at the same time or whether or not they will be utilizing subcontractors. How they answer the questions will help you determine their reliability, availability and how much attention they’re willing to give you and your project.
Some things to look out for as your choices narrow are:
- Don’t let the lowest bid lure you in. You may end up in a situation where the low price was a lot more attractive than the finished work.
- Don’t pay contractor anything in advance prior to reading or signing a contract.
- Don’t pay the full price of any home improvement job in advance.
- You should request a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate.
- Avoid unlicensed contractors.
- Request to see the building permit.
- Get everything in writing.
- What warranties are they willing to offer?
Having done all of the research and interviewing of potential contractors, you’ll be in a much better position to make a confident choice. In the future, when one of your friends or family wants a recommendation, you’ll hopefully be able to give an enthusiastic “thumbs up” for your chosen contractor!