How to Find a Contractor

Steam from a cups with a hot cocoa on the fireplace background.

Choosing the right contractor for your homes renovation is no small task. While technology has brought resources to our finger tips, it’s also made it easier for unqualified builders to make their way to the top of your search results. That’s why it’s so important to know the important points of finding a qualified contractor and thoroughly vet potential candidates before making that big decision. To guide your search, we’ve put together a step-by-step list for hiring the best possible partner(s) for your next home improvement project.

Step #1: Identify Your Work Load
What kind of work are you planning on doing? The answer to this question will decide what kind of contractor you need to hire. Depending on how big or complex your project will be, you may need to hire someone with a very narrow focus or a broad skill set. Or maybe two contractors with different specialties.

Here’s a handy list of types of contractors to get your wheels spinning:
General Contractors: Perhaps the most commonly known contractor known to homeowners, they are typically responsible for managing a project in its entirety. This includes pulling permits and using subcontractors when needed. Unless you’re a DIY pro with quite a few projects under your belt, it’s probably a good idea to hire a general contractor.
Subcontractors: These are your carpenters, electricians, framers and other specialists hired by the general contractor, or you if you just need a single project done.
Design/Builder Firms: These companies are a triple threat and take on the role of general contractor, architect and subcontractor while working within their own in-house or contracted team to design/build the project.
Specialty Contractors: These contractors have a zoned in focus and specialize on one service such as countertops or cabinets. If your project is very small and simple, this may be the best option for you.
Architects: These are the experts that design homes and buildings and help with structural changes. If you’re looking to build an addition to your home, consulting with an Architect before your general contractor will ensure your vision and needs are met.

Step #2: Begin Digging
A good place to start your search is by asking the friends and family you trust for their recommendations. Pro Tip: If someone recommends a contractor to you, ask to see the work they did so you can truly determine the quality and if it aligns with your needs.

Check review sites for an inside look to their work and assess their reliability. A few go-to sites to check are Yelp, Angie’s List and Better Business Bureau. Check their own business websites too!
Double-check licensing and qualification requirements. There a number of directories, databases and departments you can use to inquire about your contractors qualifications. Try your local building department or state consumer protection agencies.
Any builder you seek should be able to produce a valid contractor’s license, as well as proof of insurance. Refrain from hiring a contractor who cannot provide these two items as you could be held liable for any worker injuries that occur on your property.

Step #3: Meet for Coffee
Okay, maybe not coffee if that’s not your thing but meeting your contractor is a great way to get a real feel for them. While over the phone is convenient, meeting in person will give you a better sense of their personality and their skills. To help your initial meet and greet, here’s a helpful list of questions to ask:

How long have you been in business?
Have you worked on this type of project before?
What insurance do you carry? (All contractors should have worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability coverage)
Can I see a list of references?
Who will be pulling the permits and set up inspections?
How would you say we will we deal with any curveballs or disagreements that arise?

Steam from a cups with a hot cocoa on the fireplace background.

 

Step #4: Gather Formal Bids from Several Contractors
You want to have at least three bids for your project so you have a decent range of prices to consider. Once you’ve gone through the initial meet and greet, request a formal bid to get the ball rolling. This should include an estimate on pricing, timeline of completion and thorough outline of the job scope.
Negotiating Tip: Negotiate in person, not over the phone. You can explain in further detail and express more in person about wanting to work with them but the quote exceeding what you expected and can afford to pay. Another approach, much like negotiating with a new job offer – let the contractor know you have a bid that is X dollars lower than theirs and see if they’re able to meet you somewhere nearby.

Step #5: Sign the Dotted Line
You did it! You’ve narrowed down the list and selected the best option for your next home project. While it’s an extremely exciting time, it’s also a time that requires some attention the fine print details within that contract. Your contract should include these essential items aside from the fundamentals from your quote:
Payment Schedule: The contract should include your payment schedule laid out for you as far as how much of a down payment is due and what your incremental installments are over the course of the project, as well as the final bill.
Change Orders: This should outline the process of authorizing changes from the original plan to ensure both you and the builder know how they will affect the final price and schedule. It happens, don’t feel bad about changing your mind on that color of tile you chose, just be prepared for the cost.
Site Cleanup: Who is responsible for cleaning up and is it included in the price? Will a dumpster rental be required? We’re here to answer any site cleanup questions you may have here at Breeding Roll Off Services.

With this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to find and hire the right contractor with ease! Contact us today to help you talk you through your next home improvement project and dumpster needs.

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