From Virginia, the state for Lovers, we’re celebrating Home Improvement Contractors on: The Dating Game! Today’s installment of matchmaking merriment is all about home improvement projects, and connecting our lovely homeowners with only the best home improvement contractors!
When looking for the right home improvement contractor, it may feel like you are on a gameshow. There are so many questions to ask, and timelines to account for, and details to consider. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed when finding the right home improvement contractor for your home improvement project. After all, a home improvement contractor is the driving force behind the success and longevity of your home improvement project. You want to make sure that the contractor you hire is reputable and licensed. You want to make sure their craftsmanship is high-quality, that they are professional and affordable.
For our Guide to Home Improvement Contractors, we wanted to offer homeowners a resource of questions and criteria to consider when planning their home improvement project.
First: Work Only with Licensed Home Improvement Contractors
Licensing requirements vary across states and regions, so you’ll want to check for your local licensing requirements through the Consumer Protection Agency or your local Building Department. Sometimes, licensing is merely a registration, other times it is comprised of a more thorough process. Having a license or a bond provides you legal assurance of the contractor’s competency and a record of their adherence to laws and any disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them. This is essentially the “background-check” step of hiring a home improvement contractor. Working with a licensed contractor ensures that your home improvement contract will be conducted by qualified, skilled, professional contractors. The most professional and expert home improvement contractors are licensed, trained, and have extensive experience.
Choose a Local Home Contractor
With a local home improvement contractor it is easier to confirm the licenses and qualifications. Also, a local home improvement contractor is a part of your community, meaning that they are personally invested in the beauty and longevity of their craftsmanship. They most likely have done work for your neighbors and for local businesses. Local home improvement contractors are often more committed to their clients because their clients are their neighbors and the work they do for their clients directly contributes to the health of the community. Sharing a town with your home improvement contractor is a great way to connect and bond.
Ask Questions About the Home Improvement Process
When hiring a home improvement contractor, the phrase “There’s no such thing as stupid questions,” rings loud and true. You may want to consider preparing a list of predetermined questions that specifically pertain to your unique project. You want to make sure you and your potential home improvement contractor are on the same page. Nothing during this process should be a secret or a surprise. Be sure your questions ask for the home improvement contractor to specify who will be conducting each step of the home improvement contract. Will there be subcontractors involved? What part of the project will they be responsible for? Should subcontractors be involved you’ll want to see their credentials, too, to ensure that the subcontractors are also professional. During the interview, you’ll want to also ask to see their portfolio, as well as a list of references from some of their previous clients.
Get Written Bids For Your Home Project
During your interview, you want to make sure you get all bids in writing. Should your potential home improvement contractor price their construction while answering a question, you’ll want to prompt them to write the bid down and save it for your records. It is recommended that you consider at least three potential home improvement contractors and conduct interviews with each. Collecting written bids from all three potential contractors allows you to effectively compare and contrast the offers, as well as help you negotiate terms, timelines, and prices.
Call References and Read Reviews
No matter how much you may like your potential home improvement contractor after the interview, you want to still follow-up with their references and read their reviews. Be sure to call the references they gave during the interview. Ask the references homeowner-focused questions. Were they satisfied with the result? Did the project follow the stipulated schedule? Was the contractor professional and polite? Did the contractor keep the work space clean? You’ll also want to read reviews online, comparing those the contractor has posted on their site and the ones that appear elsewhere online. Track which aspects of the job were reviewed as consistently positive and which aspects of the job were reviewed as consistently negative. A single two-star rating that mentions lack of professionalism is an outlier–fifteen, two-star ratings that focus on lack of professionalism is a trend, and one you want to avoid. Also, don’t neglect older reviews: you may even want to reach out to homeowners who worked with the home improvement contractor a years ago in order to ask about the longevity and durability of their work.
Ask Yourself: Does My Home Improvement Project Fit Their Specialty?
When you’re reading reviews, talking to references, and evaluating their portfolio, you’ll want to assess whether or not your project seems like a good fit for the home improvement contractor. If the home improvement contractor does mostly roof repairs, how expert are they really at siding installation? If out of all of the reviews and references you read, none of them describe a project like yours, you may want to consider going with a home improvement contractor who has more direct experience conducting the work you require.
Tap Into Your Emotional Side
Though it may sound hokey, you’ll want to have a connection with your home improvement contractor. You’ll want to feel a sense of trust and reliability. You’ll want to feel like your home improvement contractor is dedicated to their work and committed to your satisfaction. You want to be on the same page with every part of the process.
Sign a Comprehensive Contract
Once you’ve reviewed their license, conducted an interview, had all your questions answered and bids drawn-up, and once you’ve called references, read reviews, and settled on a home improvement contractor you connect with, you’ll want to sign a detailed contract. The contract should have everything in it, and we mean everything. Your contract should stipulate schedules, payments, materials, all subcontractors, and more. Should the needs of your home improvement project change, you’ll want to refer to the contract and make any alterations in writing. The contract serves to protect both you and your home improvement contractor.
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