Here are a few quick tips for selecting and working with a credible, qualified contractor
Ask friends for referrals.
Also check with us at Builder Supply Outlet the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area.
Another great source is a local building inspector. They’ll know solid contractors who routinely meet code requirements.
You can also go down to the local lumberyard and ask which contractors buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.
Once you’ve compiled a list of contractors, make a call to each, and ask them some quick questions.
What size projects do they take on? Do they have financial references from banks and/or suppliers? Can they provide a list of current or previous clients? How many other projects are they currently working on? How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
The answers to these questions will tell you the story, save for ultimate results.
Once you’ve narrowed things down, pick whatever number of contractors you like, and meet up.
Discuss your project in detail and start the estimate process.
A credible contractor will be able to answer all your questions.
It’s important that you and your contractor communicate well seeing as they will be in your home for hours at a time.
Also be wise and check them out with your state’s consumer protection agency, as well as your local Better Business Bureau. Watch for any history of disputes with clients and/or subcontractors.
Ok, once you’ve narrowed your list, use your research.
Call up their former clients and ask how their project went and ask to see the finished job.
You can also request to visit a current job site and see how the contractor works.
How does the job site look? Neat? Safe? Organized? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner’s property?
PLANNING AND BIDDING JOB
Now that you have your short list of contractors, start looking at your project.
A conscientious contractor will need completed blueprints and a project budget.
To compare bids, ask each contractor to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and all their other expenses.
In general, materials are roughly 40% of the total cost. The rest covers overhead and their profit margin, which is typically 15-20%.
SET THE PAYMENT TERMS
Payment terms and schedules speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic.
If they request 50% of the bid up front, they likely have financial issues or are worried you won’t pay the rest of the bill after seeing their work. This is a red flag.
For larger projects, a schedule typically starts with 10% down when you sign the contract. Then it’s typically 3 payments of 25% spaced out over the duration of the project, with a check for the remaining 15% at the end.
PRICE NOT THE FINAL KEY
Always throw out the lowest bid.
That contractor is cutting corners, or worse, desperate for work. This is not an encouraging sign, especially in a healthy economy.
Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The top factor for choosing a contractor should be how well the two of you communicate.
All things being equal, spend more to get someone you feel comfortable with.
GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING
Draw up a contract detailing every step of the project.
Add in the payment schedule, proof of liability insurance, worker’s compensation payments, the start date, the projected completion date, the specific materials/products to be used, and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers.
Insisting on a clear contract isn’t about mistrust – it’s just being smart to insure a successful renovation.
Hopefully you learned quite a bit about hiring a contractor.
Feel free to stop into Builder Supply Outlet or the Edge Showroom with any home improvement questions you may have regarding cabinet hardware, bathroom vanity sinks, tops, remodeling, tile, backsplash, cleaning, sealing, grout, windows, kitchen cabinets, construction, contractors, designing/installing a new kitchen or bathroom — or anything else. We can help you through the entire design and installation process from A-Z. Or call us anytime in Broadview, IL at 1-708-343-3900. You can also make an appointment to meet with one of our Edge Kitchen and Bathroom designers at no charge by clicking here.