4 Insider Tips to Choosing a Contractor for a Home Remodel - Chris Smith Realty

4 Insider Tips to Choosing a Contractor for a Home Remodel

Posted on Oct 9, 2017

Deciding to remodel one or several rooms in your home is typically met with excited anticipation of the day the project is completed. It is so great to have the feeling of doing something new to your home – to make choices of design, color, finishes, appliances, cabinets etc.

Homeowner beware! The difference between holding on to excitement during your home remodel project or having it quelled by stress and excessive cost can be in choosing the right contractor

Beyond technical competence – comfort, trust, and communication should play equal or greater roles in your decision to hire a contractor.

Here are four helpful guidelines in choosing the right contractor for your home remodel.

1. Ask for Referrals

As you embark on your search for a contractor for your remodeling project, ask friends and family for referrals. This is the best way to ensure that you will find a reputable, trustworthy and skilled contractor.

You are about to hire someone who, along with employees and subcontractors will be spending a substantial amount of time in your home. It is important to choose one that you can trust, communicate well with and who is genuinely interested in working with you to solve problems and deliver quality work.

2. Interview at Least Three Contractors

Obtain contractor bids and interview three of your top choices in person. By meeting contractors in person, you will be better able to determine your level of trust and comfort, ability to work well together, and breadth of experience.

Here are several questions you can ask of prospective contractors. Any reputable contractor will be happy to have a conversation with you on any of these topics.

  • How long have you been in business and what is your area of specialty?
  • Have you worked on similar jobs before? How recently?
  • Can you provide references that I may contact? Any in the local area?
  • What is your availability to start this project and what is the timeline for completion?
  • How often will you personally be present on the job? What is your accessibility during the day if there is a problem, question or change?
  • Will you be using sub-contractors? If yes, who are they?
  • Do you (and your sub-contractors) have and can you provide proof of business license and insurance for workers compensation, property damage, and personal liability?
  • What is your process to ensure that warranty service complaints are successfully handled?
  • Is there any part of this project that you don’t perform like clean up or hauling?

3. Check References In Person and Online!

Before you make your final decision, check references, ask to see samples of a contractor’s and check with state’s consumer protection agency and local Better Business Bureau to determine whether the contractor has a history of complaints with homeowners or subcontractors.

In addition to checking references by speaking with a contractor’s client, you can leverage the vast amount of information on the internet to research your contractor.

  • Look up the contractor on the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any past or present complaints
  • Review the contractor’s website as well as social media sites to see his work and how he presents himself online.
  • Conduct a Google search with the contractor’s company and personal name along with the words like “scam” “bad work” “dishonest” and/or “unfinished job.” to see if anything is revealed.
  • You can also see check out Angie’s List or Home Advisor for reviews.

4. Ensure Optimal Contracts and Payment Terms

Obtain a written agreement whether or not your state requires one. Here is some must haves for a contract:

  • Contractor name, address, phone, and license number
  • Estimated start and completion date
  • Payment schedule for every provider including contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers
  • Contractor obligation to obtain required permits
  • Change order procedure/authorization with reciprocal communication from the contractor of change in cost and schedule.
  • Detailed materials list including all product specifications (brand, model, size, color). There should also be contract “allowance” of funds and appointment of a decision maker for future selections and purchases of materials.
  • Specific warranty details covering materials and workmanship, including the contact information for each warrantor, warranty period and limitations.
  • A written statement of your right to cancel the contract within three business days
  • Make sure that anything and everything you have discussed, including cleaning and hauling or even regular hours of work are included in your agreement.

You may feel rushed to get your project going – but put in the time up front to choose the best contractor who will deliver the best value for your budget and provide a good experience.

Choosing the wrong contractor can be costly both in time, money, and frustration when things go wrong – not to mention if you find yourself having to restart by finding a new contractor.

Links to Learn more about choosing the right contractor:

-FTC Consumer information on hiring a contractor
-New Jersey Consumer Affairs
-Better Business Bureau

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About the Author:
 Thomas DeFazio is a full-time Realtor® at Chris Smith Realty in Spring Lake, New Jersey serving Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The content herein is offered for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal advice or the formation of a client relationship.

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