Finding the Right Contractors for Your Next Home Improvement Project

More than 75 percent of homeowners were planning home improvement projects, a study by the Home Improvement Research Institute reported.

Be happy with your next project by taking the time to find the right contractors. It only takes one bad contractor to disrupt your entire home and project. These suggestions will help you find a quality contractor to make your project a success, and you, a satisfied customer.

Get a Plan in Place

When you talk to contractors, you want them each bidding on the same scope of work, says Fox Business. In order to do this, outline the work to be completed and your expectations of the contractor, so each company can fairly evaluate the project.

Set Your Expectations Correctly

Homeowners too often focus on getting their projects done quickly and cheaply, said Mike Holmes, the host of "Holmes on Homes" on HGTV. He says this is a sure way to be disappointed with the final outcome.

Good contractors are busy and generally booked up months in advance. Holmes says bad contractors are always available immediately to do your project. Take the time to find a high quality, reputable contractor and get the work done right -the first time. 

Cheap products may look appealing when the bills start adding up for the renovation, but the savings will be long forgotten when you have to deal with poor quality products after installation.  Whether it is a new kitchen faucet or new hardwood floors, take the time to understand the products you are considering to make sure they not only meet the desired needs in your home, but their value and overall quality.

Get Referrals

The best reference will be another homeowner who has used a particular contractor and is happy with the outcome. Put the word out to neighbors and friends. Contact the chamber of commerce, realtors and homebuilder’s associations for names of local contractors. 

If you can't find names through local contacts, go online and use directory resources. Organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.  Both provide you with search directories to find local contractors. As you accumulate a list of contractors, notice when names pop up in multiple places. These could be the experts you’re looking for.

Drive around your neighborhood and look for active remodeling projects. Don’t hesitate to ask the owner how they like the contractors working on the site. People will not hesitate to recommend a contractor they like. Likewise, they will warn you against those they’ve had bad experiences with.

Contractor Interviews

Treat your initial contact with the contractor like an interview. Find out how knowledgeable he/she is about your neighborhood. Always get references from other homeowners the company has worked with. A reputable contractor will have a number of homeowners that are happy to talk with you. If the contractor’s response is “my clients want to remain anonymous,” be suspicious.

Ask them about the permits required, if they will be subcontracting the work, the scope of the work they can manage for you, and what the realistic timeline might look like. Have them describe the entire process for you. A professional will be able to quickly lay out the steps to do your project without hesitation.  Also be sure to verify proof of insurance for the contractor to make sure you and your home are protected.  You can also want to inquiry about the sub-contractors they work with to complete your work.

If your interview was not held at your residence, consider inviting the builders to your home for a full walk-through of the home to explain the work you need done.  That way builders have an accurate understanding of the entire scope of work.

Don’t Stop at the Interview

Follow up on all of the references you were given. If you have access to an active job site where the contractor is working, make a visit and talk to the homeowner. Check for online reviews of the contractor. Ask the Better Business Bureau if there are any complaints against the business. Double check licenses and professional associations and make sure they are current and in good standing.

If you are collecting bids from multiple contractors, which is definately recommended, make sure the bids are as accurate as possible to the original scope of work you presented, and that they are an "apples-to-apples" comparison. 

Red Flags

US News lists several things that indicate further research is needed or a new contractor should be found. These include:

  • They pressure you to hire them
  • They take only cash payment
  • They want to start work before all permits have been obtained
  • They offer you a deal on material left over from another job
  • They quickly offer a quote before viewing the entire project

Have you hired a contractor recently? What suggestion do you have?


Filed Under: Home Building & Contracting |

Download the
Smart Buyers Guide
for Selecting the Right Flooring
Carlisle Flooring eBook
Get the Guide Now