By Julia Ritzenthaler, Bathroom Remodel Expert
You have decided that you are ready to remodel your home or office, and think hiring a general contractor is best for your situation. Here are a few tips to take into consideration when choosing a contractor.
This is one of the most important factors in choosing a contractor. The contracting industry is simple to enter, and some states have few if any licensing requirements. A minimum of 5 years working in the trades or design field is important. A general contractor could have 15 years experience working in the trades, but be a new business owner. This can be acceptable, if the rest of the requirements are met below.
Does the contractor have any education in the trades? Does the contractor continue to educate him or herself to keep up with changing codes and design?
Can the contractor provide references of past clients? You should call at least 2 of any named references for feedback.
You can research the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Though businesses are not required to be registered with the BBB, anyone can file a complaint against any company thru the BBB.
Does the contractor carry insurance? If you accept a bid from a contractor, be sure to require a certificate of insurance before the job starts.
Licensing – If Applicable
If the contractor will be doing electrical or plumbing, are the subcontractors used properly licensed?
A few additional things to consider:
Does the contractor belong to any trade organizations – such as NARI (National Association of Remodeling), or the HBA (Home Builders Association)?
If possible, ask if you can look at some of their work. The larger your job is, the more appropriate it is for you to expect to see their work first hand.
Do not use price as the deciding factor. You can get 3 quotes, and the outlined scope and quality can vary widely. In addition, for a contractor to meet all of the above criteria suggests they will be higher priced, as the overhead to maintain licenses and carry insurance are included in their overall costs. Keep in mind – you get what you pay for. If something goes wrong on the job – will that contractor be in business to resolve any problems?
Always have a signed contract before starting any job, outlining a detailed scope, timeline, and draw schedule. This is to protect both parties involved.
The best way to find a contractor is by asking for referrals from people you trust. Be sure to still ask all of the above questions though.