With so many contractors out there, how do you choose the right one? There are many factors to consider. Most importantly, you want to find the right fit for your project and needs.
Experience – Experience is one of the most important factors. Not just experience in general areas, but in the specific area your project is. You should feel completely comfortable with your contractor’s abilities. Most will provide a portfolio. When looking at it, check dates, locations, and descriptions of work.
References – Asking for multiple, current references should be a standard in your decision. Most contractors will offer these, along with other testimonials from their past clients. But take the info (phone numbers/email) and contact the past clients on your own. Contact them on your own time, not through the contractor, to make sure you are getting a honest review. Be prepared to ask them more in depth questions. For example, “were there any setbacks or problems ?” or “is there anything they wanted or feel should have been done differently?”. You may even be able to visit some of the past work.
State regulations and codes – Make sure they are certified to do all the work in the state. Plus local codes and regulations must be met. In addition, there are new codes and EPA regulations continuously updating. Verifying that the contractor is up to date may seem like over doing it to some, but will save you in the long run.
licensed and insured – You should be able to get this information from them before hand, but if not make them provide it at the initial consultation. You can go online and double check their license number. Insurance is important because you may be liable for any work related injury if they are not covered. Call and check their insurance policy number and company contact information. You can also check the state licensing board and Better Business Buraeu for any complaints against the contractor.
Price – ALWAYS get more than one estimate. Always get the estimate in writing. Take notes of key factors they mention when explaining the estimate, to do your own comparison between contractors. Remember : the lowest price isn’t always the best. (Never make an initial payment deposit on the first meeting.)
Consultation – Do your own research before hand. The initial consultation should leave you feeling confident and secure with them. Ask them to walk you through the entire project, asking questions along the way. It’s ok to ask for a follow up meeting with the contractor, or more than one contractor.
Some things to remember after you have decided:
- get weekly progress updates from your contractor
- don’t hesitate to check on the timeline of the project
- are they taking measures to stop property damage
- (if working on multiple projects) are they on site and supervising regularly
- fine read the contract a few times and ask questions
- get a detailed rendering of what the completed project should look lik
Choosing a contractor is essentially an interview. So do your homework and be prepared to question them. You shouldn’t feel rushed, or hesitant. You should get the sense that they are genuine and have your best interest at heart, along with them being knowledgeable and competent.