How to choose a contractor

How do you know that the person you’ve put in charge of giving your home a fresh face is the right fit?

© Andrey Popov, Adobe Stock

After you sign on the dotted line, you’ll be working with your contractor for weeks, if not months. This means it’s important to make sure you’ve found the right person for the job. That all starts with research.

Begin by seeking referrals from friends or family, as they should be able to provide the most trusted advice, Chris Arnold, vice president of business development for Foster Remodeling Solutions, says. Then, head to contractor rating services, such as Houzz, Angie’s List, Five Star Rated, GuildQuality and Yelp. Arnold also suggests local home shows as an efficient way to meet a variety of contractors at once.

As you consider your options, refer back to Mina Fies‘s, CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, renovation road map to make sure your job scope aligns with your potential contractor’s work. Are you planning to put your DIY skills to the test? Do you need a handyman’s help on a straightforward repair project? Would you prefer a full-service design-build firm to guide you through the process?

“There’s no right or wrong way, it’s just making sure that your frame of mind and what you’re looking for from them, they can actually provide,” Fies says.

You can determine your comfort level with the company by asking about the resources available to clients. Consider whether you’d prefer to work with an on-staff designer and browse a company showroom, or if you’d rather go to a hardware store and buy the materials yourself.

Inquiring about the average size of a job is a good way to evaluate compatibility. You’ll want to make sure that your project size and budget is in line with the contractor’s portfolio, Fies says.

Remember that a full-service company with an in-house staff will likely cost more, but it will also provide you with more consistency. “Companies who are outsourcing it, they’re losing some control over the schedule, also they may be losing some control over the workmanship and quality,” Arnold warns.

During the interview process, keep communication lines open, and be honest and upfront about your budget. Don’t go in with an adversarial attitude. Instead, be prepared to share your expectations and ask the right questions. “You both have the same goals in mind, you both want to finish on a particular date that’s in the contract, so how do you help each other?” Fies says.

Of course, check the contractor’s website thoroughly to see examples of their work and make sure they have all the proper licensing and insurance, as well as a robust warranty. You can also ask to speak to references and tour previous job sites.

(Best Home Experts, March 2018)