Maybe you’re a new homebuyer scrambling to start your first home improvement project. Perhaps you’ve owned your home for years and are looking for ways to reimagine it. Possibly, you’re adding to your family and need to be prepared. Whatever your reasons are for looking to hire a contractor, putting time into the research and planning ahead will not only save you money but give you peace of mind.
If you’re planning a home improvement project and need to hire a professional contractor but don’t know where to start, read on for three tips.
1. Prioritize Your Needs
Whether you can’t get your hands off your favorite home improvement guide for first-time homeowners or know exactly what kind of improvements you want in your old or new home, you’ll want to start off with a list. Make a list of the things you’d like changed or fixed around your home before reaching out for professional help. Then, break that list up into jobs you’ll outsource and those you’ll do yourself.
Something like repainting the bedrooms could be easily achieved by the average person on weekends. A job more intense, especially one that involves plumbing, heating, or electrical systems, will likely need a professional bid. Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s time to start researching.
Use the Internet to your advantage and do a Google search for carpenters or other tradesmen in your area. Consider places like Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor for a list of licensed professionals. Pay attention to reviews, check whether a person is licensed, and don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations when making the first contact.
While most people don’t search mugshots on a potential home renovator, it isn’t the worst idea. This is a person who will be in or around your home and have access to your belongings. It might be important to know if they have a criminal record. The amount of research you do ahead should be based on your overall comfort levels.
When finding the right person to hire, one of the best things you can do is ask friends and family members who they’ve used. Colleagues and acquaintances might be helpful in this area as well. Consider asking other homeowners you know who they have used and what their experience has been. Things to ask could involve overall professionalism, quality of craftsmanship, and how long it took to get the job done. These things will make a big difference down the road.
3. Get three bids.
The best rule of thumb is to get three bids. Don’t hire anyone until you’ve met with three fully licensed contractors to get the job done. Most reliable contractors will offer free, speedy estimates and be able to give you options on costs depending on the extent of your proposed job.
By taking the time to get three bids, you’re not only giving yourself a chance to save money on your home improvement project but meeting contractors in person. This matters if you have a large project and this person will be spending a lot of time in your home. You’ll want someone who respects your quality of life and living situation, won’t leave debris around your home and will be flexible with your privacy and remodeling needs.
In the end, choose a contractor not just by the price bid, but by whom you feel most comfortable. Consider years of experience, whether it will be an out-of-pocket deal or paid for by insurance, and the timeframe they can offer for getting the work done. By doing your research ahead and being willing to ask questions, you’ll be in the best position to get the result you’re looking for.