How to choose the best Contractor for your Home Improvement Project.
It can be easier than you think to find a good Contractor by taking the time to educate yourself about the work you want to have completed prior to meeting with contractors. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of renovation process, you’ll be able to provide the contractor with enough information to prepare an estimate that meets your goals, be able to interpret estimates that you receive, and help you to figure out whether the contractor is the right one for the job.
Start with your Friends and Family for past experiences they had with any Contractors they may have used. Then check Contractor References and specifications in procedures in scheduling, along with how many other projects the Contractor has in progress at the same time. Pay attention to the way they communicate with you. Look for contractors affiliated with the National Association of the Remodelling Industry (NARI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), or any other local building or remodelling association. Check the contractor's record: contact The Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) @ ma.gov. website to verify license and registration numbers. Your local State Attorney's office and the Better Business Bureau to find out if your proposed contractor has any outstanding unresolved complaints against them. If they do, reconsider your choice! Verify insurance and licensing: ask your contractor to provide proof of insurance coverage (including workers' compensation), automobile insurance, and general liability coverage for at least 1 million dollars. Look at each Contractors website to see what type of work they perform, any examples of work they have already completed. A Repredable Contractor should answer your Emails and phone calls in a timely manner.
Make a List of questions that the Contractor must answer, and consider whether your questions were answered clearly.
Here are some sample questions you need to ask each contractor:
Do they take on projects of your size?
How long will it take to complete the work?
Are they insured with a General Liability policy?
Can they provide a minimum of (3) references from previous projects
Is the Contractor and there Sub-Contractors Licensed and Registered in the state you reside in to pull the proper building permits?
Are permits necessary and if so, is the cost included in the estimate?
Is the Contractor willing to let you visit several of their jobs?
What type of Warranty does the Contractor provide?
Good builders are the ones who know how to solve a problem. However, those who insist on answering your questions and want to explain you every little detail are the best. Remember not every thing is visable at the project, at the time of estimating, (eg: behind wall coverings, underground obstrucals, etc.). Change orders are a common accurance during the remodeling process, and should always be in writing carring signature from both the Contractor and the Customer before starting any additional work above the original scope of the project.
When checking Customer references, be sure to ask questions about:
The nature of there project
What kind of work did they have done?
Their relationship with the contractor
Had they ever worked with this contractor before?
How did they come to know about them?
Did the contractor show up to work on time?
Was the project completed on schedule?
Did they clean up after themselves properly?
Ask if you can take a look at the work done by the contractor.
Consider connecting with a green company that understands your needs and has the knowledge how to manage your task throughout the complete process of your project. Today, houses are less expensive to heat and cool per SQ. FT. This will help you over time, to regain some of the money you've invested in refurbishing or building a house.
Show the Contractor what you want completed. During your meetings, hand over your information that you compiled and walk the job with each of them. Be prepared to answer numerous questions from the Contractor. Some will be easy to answer and others may need some additional research on your part. Either way, try to stick with your initial scope of work and do not deviate because it will only make it more difficult for you to interpret the figures on each estimate. Ask each Contractor how long it will take them to prepare the estimate and make sure they honour those dates. If they don't, that should be a red flag.
The cheapest offers can often the most expensive in the long run. Price should not be the deciding factor when choosing contractors. People often choose the lowest bid and ultimately discover that the contractor has not done the job properly or built to your expectations. If you ask for three bids for your project, you'll get three different prices. If a contractor is 25 percent more expensive than another, ask him why. Maybe it includes more items in his offer. If it is cheaper by 25 percent, maybe he forgot to include something very important to you. Remember, you have the right to ask a contractor what you want and they must know how to explain the offer. Your final decission is usually with your gut feeling in the end, but having these tools to work with will help narrow it down to making the best choice.
Don't fall for these Contractor sales pitch lines!
1. “This offer expires today.”
Most bids are good for 30 days so clients can mull over decisions and get loans when needed.
2. “I’ll give you a price over the phone.”
Bids come in writing, and only after careful inspection.
3. “I don’t give out contact information for past customers.”
A good contractor is happy to provide references.
Just be sure to follow up and confirm that those clients are satisfied with the work.
4.“A simple handshake will do.”
Get it in writing. A contract protects both you and your contractor should something go wrong.
5. “You’ll have to get the work permits.”
A contractor who can’t get permits for a job probably isn’t licensed in your area, or his license was revoked.