Tips for working with contractors on remodeling projects

The quality of the contractors you hire and your ability to effectively work with them can be the difference between a failed remodel and a successful one. If you’re new to home remodeling, there are a lot of potential mistakes that can cause your project to go off the rails. If you take the proper precautions, however, your remodel can be a success.

Do lots of research

You should never just hire the first contractor you stumble upon. In the spring and summer months the best contractors may be booked well in advance. But just because a contractor you’ve found can start tomorrow, that doesn’t mean they’re the best. In fact, it could mean the opposite since they don’t have ongoing projects during the busiest season for remodelers. Find out if your state requires contractors to have a license and don’t let any contractor start work if they don’t have one. Get a list of prospective contractors that are licensed and insured. Do your homework to find out how long each one has been in business. You can check with the Better Business Bureau to see what kind of rating they have. Many contractors belong to trade organizations that have their own strict standards for membership and that could be a good sign as well. You can also ask around for recommendations. Building supply stores are often great places to ask around at since they work with all the contractors in the area.

Get several estimates

Getting multiple estimates makes you a more informed consumer. You’ll get a sense of what the project should cost and you can rule out unusually high or suspiciously low bids. If there’s a contractor you like more but the price is a bit higher, you can use your multiple estimates to your advantage by negotiating a better price.

Get a contract in writing and read it before you sign it

Sometimes homeowners and contractors aren’t on the same page regarding the project and leads to many problems. A contract makes both parties informed about every aspect of the project. A contract is worthless, however, if the homeowner doesn’t know what’s in it so it’s important to read it carefully before signing. If there’s something you don’t understand in the contract, don’t just assume it’s fine. Ask your contractor and make sure you fully understand. Only then should you sign.

Work out a fair payment schedule

You’ll want to find a good balance when it comes to the payment schedule. Pay too much up front and the contractor may not be motivated enough to do their best work. On the other hand, contractors may refuse to begin if you don’t have enough up front. For smaller projects it’s reasonable to pay half up front and the other half when it’s completed but for longer projects, you should only be paying 10 or 15% up front. Your contract can stipulate at which points during the project you will pay another percentage. You should always hold back another 10 or 15% until the project is completely done to your satisfaction so the contractor can’t cut any corners on the finishing touches.

Be involved

Home remodels can be quite disruptive. As your home turns into a construction zone, it’s understandable that you want to stay away but if you’re completely absent during the entire process you may return to discover that it hasn’t progressed in the way you wanted. If you’ve made arrangements to stay elsewhere, still check in regularly and you’ll catch problems sooner when they’re easier to fix.

Don’t get talked into expensive upgrades

Sometimes contractors lowball their estimates to get the job and they try to upsell you on expensive additional work. Depending on your budget you’re of course free to consider their proposals but don’t just assume that the contractor always knows best and agree to every suggestion they make without carefully considering how it will affect the cost.

DIY

If you’d like to remodel without the hassle of dealing with hiring contractors, you can always select projects that are within the scope of your abilities. Repainting, swapping out appliances or light fixtures and sink fixtures, and installing baseboard radiator covers are all simple projects that the average homeowner can do themselves.

 

Leave a Reply