What You Need to Know about Choosing a Contractor
Here’s the most important idea we can share with you about the process of choosing a contractor …
Decide who you want to work with … before you even meet them!
This might sound counter-intuitive, but hear us out. The most efficient thing you can do is to research and find the best contractor in your area prior to contacting them.
Vet them, then make the call. Know who you want to hire, then set the meeting.
These days, you can find out so much about contractors online: you can see the quality of their website and their online reviews. You can explore their portfolio of past projects. You can discover what types of projects they do, and whether they’d be a good fit for yours.
Once you’ve decided who you want to work with, you can use your time more efficiently. You can hit the ground running, rather than wasting time interviewing different companies. In the first meeting with the contractor, you can discuss the project itself, and continue the process of building trust and rapport.
Before meeting with the contractor, ask yourself these questions. (Note that you should be able to get answers to many of these questions before meeting with the contractor, through the contractor’s website):
- Have I taken time to discern what I really want for my home renovation?
- Have I asked trusted friends or neighbors for recommendations?
- Have I made sure that this contractor is a registered home improvement contractor?
- Have I made sure that this contractor can provide proof of liability insurance?
- Have I reviewed the contractor’s website and seen photos of their past work / renovation galleries?
- Have I read the contractor’s online reviews?
- Have I seen examples of the contractor’s work in my neighborhood or city?
- Have I come prepared to our meeting, ready to describe my vision for the space and ask pertinent questions?
During the initial call or in-person meeting with the contractor, ask:
- When are you available to meet with me and walk through the space? (The contractor will need to see the space, and it’s helpful to do a walk-through together to clarify the necessary work. As we mentioned in our last post, a contractor may be able to give you new ideas and suggest concurrent renovations you’ve not yet considered.)
- What’s a reasonable target budget range for this project? Will I receive a firm quote based on final design decisions?
- What’s your usual procedure for processing payments and contracts? What method(s) of payment do you accept?
- (If your project requires permits): Do you facilitate the permit application process?
- (If your project requires an architect’s drawings): Do you have an architect you typically work with for projects like mine?
- How should I follow up after today’s meeting / to whom should I direct any questions I may have? Do you prefer being reached via phone or email?
As you’re meeting with the contractor, ask yourself:
- Do I feel comfortable communicating with this person?
- Do I have a sense that they understand the scope of work involved?
- Are they taking notes or working from a checklist to ensure that they capture the information we’re discussing?
- Are they really listening, or simply pushing their own agenda? To be sure, you do want to work with a contractor who offers their ideas and expertise, but you also want to work with someone who is attuned to your needs and vision for the space.
- Do we have a clear plan for following up with one another after this meeting?
This is the final post in our Get Ready to Renovate series – we hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Disclaimer: Although we have made every effort to ensure that the information in this post is correct, we do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.