The internet is filled with sad stories of home owners who lost thousands of dollars to a shoddy contractor. It takes time, patience and the right kind of questions to find a good local contractor for remodeling projects. Irrespective of what stories you read or hear, there are many honest and trustworthy contractors out there.
1. Search the internet: The first step is to look for remodel contractors online. Read their reviews carefully on different websites. Contact the local trade associations where you can ask for recommendations for these contractors. After looking thoroughly, shortlist at least 3 contractors for the job.
2. Get their license numbers: Now you need to call these contractors and ask them for 2 things. One is the business license number and the other is the certificate of insurance. A good contractor will never hesitate to give you these details. Once they give this information to you, cross-check it with your local municipal body.
3. Ask questions: On meeting these contractors, you need to be prepared with a detailed list of questions like the ones below:
Which local associations do you belong to?
How long have you been contracting?
Could you share the references of your 3 recent clients?
What is the timeline you are looking at for this project?
What other projects are you currently working on that could hamper my project?
What payment terms suit you?
Do you have the same set of team members work on a single project?
What can I expect during your working hours
4. Ask for an itemized breakdown of the bid: A contractor can overcharge you but with an itemized bid you will know exactly the cost of labor, materials, permit fees and overhead expenses. It can help you add or remove certain remodeling tasks depending on your budget. A good contractor will never hesitate to give you these details. Also ask if the bid is an estimate or final. If it is an estimate, ask him what factors can affect the cost.
Warning signs of a bad contractor
If a contractor has come to your door asking for work, it should raise a suspicion. A good contractor will always have enough work.
If they ask you for all the money upfront, it is a red flag. Generally, contractors ask for a small percentage of the total amount to begin the work.
A lower bid is also a sign that the contractor is only looking to make money. Ask detailed questions when you see the bid lower than your expectations.
About the Author:
Dana is the co-owner and Marketing Manager at RL Remodeling since 2010.