How to Find the Right Contractor for your Budget and Project
All contractors are not created equal. Many individuals who bill themselves as contractors are not licensed, and many aren’t interested in putting forth the best work they can. As a homeowner, your house is probably the biggest investment you will make in your life: choosing the right contractor for home improvement projects can mean the difference between adding thousands of dollars of value to your home, or an endless nightmare of costs, repairs, disputes, and lost property value. Choosing the right contractor is almost tantamount to finding the right family physician.
With the effects of a sluggish economy still noticeable, and the housing market still in the dumps, more and more Americans are choosing to spend on small renovation projects to spruce-up an outdated room, or make repairs to an aging part of the home. In 2012, the National Association of Home Builders’
Remodeling Market Index reached its highest point since the Recession hit in 2008. These trends are expected to continue.
When the housing market collapsed in 2008, naturally the home remodeling industry went with it. Now that business is starting to pick up, there are hundreds-of-thousands of licensed and non-licensed contractors out hungry for work. It is more important than ever to make a careful selection of whom you choose to do work on your home.
The most important things to keep in mind are to take your time, get multiple bids on the scope, cost and time-line of your project, and to research all contractors you are considering thoroughly.
Here are some more tips for finding the right contractor:
1. Check the contractor’s license. Not all states require contractors to be licensed in order to work on people’s homes, but it certainly is still in your best interest and the best interest of your home. You can check with your local or state Business Licensing Department, the Better Business Bureau, or City Hall. Keep in mind that just because someone is licensed, still doesn’t guarantee that they do good work.
2. Compare and contrast multiple bids. With so much money on the line, it’s easy to take the lowest bid you get. If you get a bit that is significantly lower than the others, in fact, that is typically a bad sign. This individual will probably either try to cut corners on your project in order to get the job and make a profit, or they have made a mistake, or excluded a significant portion of the project from the bid they have provided you. Either way, this will only lead to headaches. Avoid suspiciously low bids.
Make sure the bids you receive are identical in terms of the scope of the project. This way you are comparing apples to apples and can clearly see the differences between your options. If any of the contractors seem more intent on telling you how the project should go, instead of listening to what you want in YOUR home, this is once again probably someone you would be best to avoid.
3. Ask around! Some of friends, neighbors, and family members have probably had an experience with a contractor not long ago. Especially if you live in the suburbs, news gets around and people in town know who to hire and who to avoid.
Home improvements are something you will have to live with for the remainder of your time in the house, spending the time up front to gather information is crucial. Instead of rushing through the process, really put your ear to the ground to find out who is well recommended in your area. In fact, checking our database is a great way to start! A lot of money is on the line, and if you end up paying a little more for a job well done it is well worth it.