Change is good, but nobody ever went through a home remodel and said it was a relaxing experience. It’s a big task that can easily spiral out of control if not planned properly. If it drags on for too long, you’ll come to regret your decision to get started. Of course, if all goes well and you like the results, you’ll quickly forget about all the stress you went through.
Regardless of whether you’re renovating just one room or the whole house, it’s a big job. Sure, if all you want is to paint an accent wall or chance a few fixtures, you’ll probably manage by yourself after looking up some tutorials online. On the other hand, if you\re looking to make major changes to your home, it’s best to hire professionals.
Contractors, as construction and renovation professionals, can handle all of the necessary permits, inspections, materials, labour, and equipment to ensure that your project runs smoothly from start to finish.
Finding the ideal contractor for the job is an important initial step in your planning process. You need to be sure they deliver quality work, they’re properly licensed, have insurance, understands your requirements, and you can agree on the scope of the project.
Since you’ll be dealing with this person on a regular basis until the job is completed, you also need them to be someone you can get along with well. They could be working on your home for weeks or months.
Establish Your Goals
Before you start looking for a contractor, you need to establish your goals. As the client, you are ultimately in charge of the project because the contractor you hire will follow your instructions.
Think about how you want your home to turn out at the end. If you struggle with turning your vision into concrete goals, you can always get advice from a designer.
Nowadays, you have numerous apps that help you get consulting services from designers at affordable rates. All you have to do is take a few pictures of the space you want to remodel and describe how you’d like for it to look. They can then tell you what the project involves.
Ask for Recommendations
Once you’ve established your goals, make a list of ten to fifteen local contractors to choose from. You can ask your neighbours for recommendations.
This has multiple benefits. The first one is that you can see the quality of the constructor’s work because your neighbours will show you. The second benefit is that if the contractor has worked with your neighbours, it means they’re familiar with building codes in your area. And third, unlike online reviews, you can ask further questions like if the project took longer to complete than initially estimated and if there were any problems in communication.
But online research and reviews are still valuable resources. Most people only know a few of their neighbours, and that won’t be enough to put together a list with 10-15 contractors.
Get Quotes from Multiple Contractors
You’ve made your list, and now it’s time to contact contractors to get an idea of how much the project will cost. Get quotes from at least five or six contractors. You’ll get a better sense of the market cost for your type of project, and you’ll also learn what goes into the project because they’ll most likely also explain what goes into the total price.
If one contractor offers a considerably lower quote than the others, we recommend removing them from your list. We understand why you’d be tempted to go with their offer. Home improvement projects can be very expensive, and we all try to save money where we can, but it would be a mistake because they’re probably cutting corners and compromising on important aspects.
If they can complete a project for a much lower price than the market average, it could mean that they’re using low-cost and low-quality materials. They could also be cutting labour costs by recruiting less qualified workers, and if they’re willing to do that, they might also be neglecting health and safety guidelines which can result in a host of legal problems.
Or they might not even be able to do the work for that estimate. They give lower estimates in the beginning so that clients will choose them over competitors, but then they ask for more money in the middle of the project.
Perform Background Checks
You should perform background checks on your shortlisted contractors, even if they were recommended by somebody you trust – better safe than sorry. Find their corporate website, social media accounts, and customer reviews by doing a quick search online. If you google them and you have trouble finding this information, that’s already a red flag.
Good contractors are confident in the quality of their work. They encourage reviews and make it easy for other potential customers to find those reviews online and contact them. They know that they can build a strong reputation, and this will help them grow as a business.
The next step is to confirm that they are fully licensed and insured. You’ll need their license and insurance policy numbers. This will also allow you to see whether they’ve had any legal issues.
You should also consider your interactions with them. Is their behaviour professional? How long does it take them to return your calls or respond to your emails? Have you scheduled any appointments with them where they were late or cancelled on short notice?
Put It in Writing
Naturally, before you begin working with a contractor, you’ll want to ensure that your agreement is in writing. You should also consider having a lawyer review the contract if the project is expected to cost a significant sum of money.
The following should be included in your contract:
- A complete explanation of the work involved in your project, as well as a detailed cost breakdown;
- Payment schedule – for example, 25% when work begins, another instalment halfway through the project, and the balance when the work is finished;
- Expected start and finish dates;
- Signatures – If a contract contains blank sections, do not sign it.
Any changes to the contract must be recognized in writing by both parties. If you change your mind and want to cancel the contract after it’s already been signed, you must do so in accordance with its cancellation clause, and you should provide written notification by registered mail to ensure that you have documentation of the cancellation.