So you’re thinking about updating your kitchen counters to granite, switching out that old carpet to wood flooring, or looking to replace that unsightly, patchy sod lawn to artificial grass. Whatever the home renovation that you’re considering, you’ll want to find the right contractor – someone you can trust to get the job done right for a fair price.
Here are 5 Tips on finding the ideal contractor
Get at least 3 bids
As with any project, it’s wise to get multiple bids. Do your homework and spend time researching; you have a terrific resource called the internet at your disposal. When selecting the companies that you would like to receive bids from, use the following checklist:
a. Does your contractor operate from a permanent place of business. If the contractor is not permanently established, you run the risk that they will not complete the work or be in business, down the line, should there be any problems. We’ve all heard the stories where homeowners make a sizeable deposit and then the contractor disappears. Don’t be that homeowner!
b. Is the company licensed, bonded and insured? Make sure the employer has workers’ compensation and general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Don’t be afraid to ask for copies of these policies. Here in California, you can check online at www.cslb.ca.gov
c. How long has the company been in business? A long-time, well-established contractor is a great indicator of quality of product and service. Ask for references, and also look online for customer reviews: Google & Yelp are great sites to check. Visit the job sites if possible.
d. Get everything in writing on your contract, as this will prevent problems that may arise before, during, or after a job. Get all the details of the job in writing and make sure all concerns are addressed to avoid a miscommunication. Walk away from vague proposals or prices written down on the back of a business card.
e. Walk away from that overpriced bid, but also negate that ludicrous, lowball bid. A contractor that gives you a figure that’s almost too good to be true is probably cutting corners, using questionable materials, or desperate for work.
6 Warning Signs of a Bad Contractor
There are a large number of scam artists posing as contractors, some additional things to look out for include:
a. Accepts only cash, which is usually an indication that he’s trying to avoid paying taxes.
b. Quotes a final bid without seeing the job site.
c. Pressures you for a quick hiring decision.
d. Check out their website. Is it lush with information and contains a large photo gallery of past jobs, or is it a minimal-page template with very little content?
e. Payment schedules will vary depending on job, but a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing. Be wary if a contractor wants half a bid up front; you may never see them again.
f. Bids are way too low. This usually that they are desperate for work which may mean that their doors may be shutting permanently in the near future. As a result, their warranty means nothing because they won't be around to fix any issues.
Finding a reliable contractor can be a headache, but at least, in today’s world, you have a great resource in the internet to do your homework - Compared to back in the day, when one had to find a contractor in a phone book, which was pretty much a crapshoot.
Lastly, before you sign on the dotted line, go with your gut feeling. Is this contractor someone you trust giving thousands of dollars to, to do your home improvement project? If you have hesitation, walk away, and go back to the drawing board.