Hiring an expert home renovation contractor is the most important step in starting your remodeling project. Choosing the right one requires a little bit of effort and diligence on your part for the project to be finished on time and within budget.
So before signing a deal, follow these five steps to vet the home contractor.
1. Look up the contractor’s license for verification.
Most states require major remodeling work to be done by a licensed contractor. This may not deter unlicensed contractors from doing business, but working with one will make you responsible for defective work and liable for any injuries that may happen in your home. So before signing a deal with a contractor, ask if they have the necessary license to practice in the state.
After getting their license number, you can verify it using a validation website provided by your state. A valid license means the contractor is credible and has the level of expertise needed to practice the profession.
2. Request proof of insurance.
Home renovations may involve climbing, heavy lifting, and digging, all of which pose a risk of injury to workers. For this reason, make sure the home remodeling contractor you choose is insured to protect yourself and the contractor should an accident happen.
Home renovation contractors should have two types of insurance: workers’ comp insurance and general liability insurance. Workers’ comp insurance protects you from medical expenses if the contractor is injured on the job. General liability insurance protects you in case part of your property is damaged during the remodeling. Both of these can give you peace of mind throughout the project.
3. Talk to the contractor’s references.
One of the best ways to judge a home remodeling contractor’s ability is to look at their past work. Ask potential contractors for the names of customers whose home renovation projects were similar to yours. You may then talk to these customers and, if they don’t mind, visit their homes to ask about their experience.
Ask previous customers about their experience, if there were any mistakes, and if they are generally satisfied with their work. From here, you can narrow down your list of potential contractors based on positive feedback.
4. Ask if they use subcontractors.
Your chosen home remodeling contractor may hire a subcontractor to do part of the job. Asking about this possibility is essential as you may be held liable should a payment issue arise between the home remodeling contractor and the subcontractor. Early on in the project, they should deliver a preliminary notice to notify you about their lien rights. Don’t be alarmed when this happens. As long as the terms are clear and the payment is sent on time, you’ll be fine.
5. Ask for a detailed quote.
Before you hire a contractor, ask for a quote that specifies the material and labor costs in detail. A good home remodeling contractor should be able to provide a close estimate of the actual prices so you can prepare your budget. This also protects you from hidden fees and additional charges.
Renovating your home should be fun and not stressful. So before you take on your home renovation project, save yourself from headache by carefully vetting potential contractors before signing a deal.
Not sure where to start? Ask your REALTOR®! Real estate professionals are local experts and great resources for finding qualified local contractors. Ask them to recommend someone they trust and have worked with in the past, then follow the steps above to further qualify the contractor.
Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.