6 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

If you’ve got a big home project ahead of you, regardless of where you live: Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming– hiring a contractor might be a good idea. They’re professionals, should get the job done in a timely manner, and you won’t injure yourself if someone else is doing the work. But letting someone into your home and paying them a big chunk of change to complete a project can be a little unsettling if you don’t choose the right contractor. Use these tips to find and hire the best contractor for your renovation or repair.

  1. Decide if you need one at all:

    Whether you think you’re handy or just frugal, there’s a chance that you could take on some home renovations yourself. Do some research into what’s required for your particular project and what it would cost if you did it on your own. The site DIY or Not can help give you an idea of what kind of money you would save, how much longer it would take, and how much you’ll regret it if you do it yourself instead of hiring a contractor.

  2. Ask around:

    If you live in a neighborhood or have friends in your community, you’ve got people you can ask for recommendations for contractors. You’ve probably noticed if someone on your block has had work done recently, so ask them how they felt about it and the person they hired. Ask around at work, church, or any other place where you know a lot of people you trust. Word-of-mouth recommendations will give you a much better starting place than if you just blindly searched the phone book or the Internet.

  3. Get estimates from a few:

    You’ll want to narrow down your list to a few contractors before getting an estimate. Since many contractors charge a consultation fee for the estimate, getting too many estimates can be costly. Get a feel for potential contractors by speaking with them on the phone and visiting the Better Business Bureau website for complaints, and then choose three or so to meet in person and ask for an estimate. This way, you’re doing your due diligence, but won’t be out half a dozen extra fees.

  4. Visit a job site:

    Your contractor and his crew will likely be taking over part of your house for several weeks or more depending on the project, so knowing how safe and clean they keep the job site is important to consider. Ask your potential contractor for finished jobs that you might be able to look at, as well as any he has in progress. Talk to the clients if possible to get the full picture.

  5. Don’t rely on price alone:

    When you have your estimates and a good feel for each contractor you’re considering, make sure you don’t let the price make your final decision. It’s more important to feel confident in and comfortable with your contractor, knowing that he’ll get the job done and will communicate well throughout the whole process. If you got a lowball estimate, it’s wise to throw it out of the mix. Someone who comes in much lower than other contractors have quoted is probably going to cut corners.

  6. Draw up a contract:

    Even if you’ve found a contractor you feel you can trust, verbal agreements are never a good idea. People forget details and have nothing to refer back to, and it’s much easier to take advantage of a client if nothing’s in writing (though we certainly hope that doesn’t happen!). Make sure details about your payment schedule, the contractor’s proof of insurance, contact information, scope of work, expected price, and timeline are included. If a contractor is unwilling to sign, it may be a red flag that he is less than reliable.

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