For Homeowner

5 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Contractor

Oct 12, 2019
Design Everest

Considering a home renovation project that requires professional help? For most homeowners, the most difficult part of beginning a new construction project is finding a professionally licensed, reliable contractor.

Looking for a contractor for your upcoming project?

Remodeling a home can be a stressful and expensive undertaking. Choosing the right contractor can make the difference between a successful renovation project and a complete disaster. Finding the right contractor who will complete a project with high quality work from start to finish can feel challenging. Below are some tips to consider before hiring a contractor for your next project, from our experienced professionals here at Design Everest.

Choosing the right Contractor Recommendations & Interviews.

Asking friends, relatives and neighbors for references is one of the quickest and easiest ways to direct your search for a local contractor. People who live in your surrounding city who have completed similar projects in their homes are the best source. They can give you a first-hand account of the quality work the suggested contractor provided and the contractor will more likely be knowledgeable of local building codes and laws.

It is also imperative to interview the contractor prior to hiring them for any project. Asking a lot of questions and receiving a written bid that includes materials, labor and permit fees will prevent issues from arising during construction. Don’t be afraid to ask about what work will be done specifically by the contractor or their employees and what will need to be completed by a subcontractor. Some questions to consider asking include:

  • Does the contractor take on projects of your size?
  • Has the contractor recently worked on a project similar to yours?
  • How long does a project of your size typically take to complete?
  • How many other projects will they be working on at the same time?
  • Can the contractor give a list of previous clients and references?
  • Can they provide license and insurance information?
  • Can the contractor start on my project right away?
  • Will the contractor stick with the job through to completion?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors and are they licensed as well?

Asking these types of questions will help to disclose a company’s professionalism, reliability, and availability for your project. A contractor should be able to satisfactorily answer your questions and make you feel good about moving forward.

Make Plans and Receive Bids. Know what you are wanting to achieve before you receive estimates for a project. You will get the most accurate estimate if you can clearly outline what you want done for your project and the materials you are expecting to be used. At Design Everest our experienced engineers can prepare a preliminary set of drawings and ensure the contractor understands the scope of work expected for the project. A good contractor will want to look at complete plans and review all breakdown cost of their proposed bid.

Bids should include cost of labor, materials, profit margins and other expenses, including contingencies. Homeowners should expect labor to account for 20-35% of the budget, around 40% of the total cost for materials, and 10-20% of the budget for unexpected expenses and typical profit margins.

Ultimately, do not let price alone dictate your choice in a contractor. The “low ball bid” is not always the most accurate and could lead to incompetent work. It is better to compare the actual bids to make sure you are comparing the price for the same set of services. A quality contractor will work with you on your budget, but will also be realistic about what homeowners should and should not compromise on. Low quality work can cause delays that lead to added expenses in terms of relocation expenses during the renovation. Paying a mortgage as well as rental on the temporary accommodation will end up costing more than what you save on the contractor fee.Communication is key and it is better to spend a little more with the person who makes you feel most content about getting the job done.

Right Contractor for the Right Project.

Choosing the right contractor for your proposed project is essential. Someone who did a great job remodeling your neighbors master bathroom isn’t necessarily the right person to build an addition to your home. Looking for a contractor who regularly takes on projects of the same type and scale as yours, is also an important consideration.

Checking the licenses, insurance and previous complaints of a potential contractor is equally imperative. General contractors and most subcontractors should be licensed. Homeowners should check their state licensing board prior to hiring any contractor to confirm their license is in good standing. A professional contractor should be able to provide the client with a copy of their license and those of the major subcontractors they routinely work with.

Remember to check their references and online reviews during this phase of the process. Interviewing former clients who had the same type of project done in their home will assure you about the quality of work the contractor provides. You want to consider all references and reviews carefully to make sure the contractor is the right person for your specific job.

Proper Permits.

Most if not all home renovation projects require a permit before starting construction. Never allow unpermitted work to be done by a professional contractor. This not only violates local ordinances but could subject you to fines and potentially more work in the long run. Unpermitted work can also cause you problems should you ever decide to sell your home. A professional contractor will make sure to obtain all necessary permits for your project.

Contractors should also provide homeowners with proof of liability insurance and workers compensation information. It is important to understand what is covered by the contractor’s insurance and what is covered by your homeowners insurance during the construction phase. Obtaining copies of all receipts for materials and a lien release for subcontractors and suppliers will protect you in the event that the contractor does not pay.

Sign Detailed Contract & Set a Payment Schedule.

Once you have decided on the right contractor for your project be sure to get a written contract that has been signed by both parties. The contract should clearly outline the project in full detail including: labor and materials fees, blueprints, payment schedule, start and completion dates, proof of insurance, licensing and lien releases. This will enable homeowners to stick to their time-frame and budget, without feeling fooled by contractors about added or proposed change costs during construction. At Design Everest, our engineers work with contractors to ensure they do not deviate from plans just to increase price on a change order and provide complete support during construction. Insisting on a clear contract is the best way to ensure a positive client-contractor relationship and successful renovation.

Another important tip to consider when hiring a contractor is working out a payment schedule ahead of time. An example of an ethical payment schedule would begin with a percentage at signing (10-20% average), two to three equal installment payments over the duration of the project, and a final payment when the project is completed. Do not make any final payments until you are satisfied with the work completed and all receipts and lien releases have been received.

Contact Design Everest today to set up a pre-construction meeting with one of our licensed engineers before your next home project. We can assist you through this process and help you to choose the right building plans and contractor for your home renovation. Reach us at 877-316-6451 to receive your free consultation and direct you to the services required to complete your project.

Sources:
[1] http://www.cslb.ca.gov/
[2] https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/top-8-pro-tips-how-to-hire-contractor
[3] https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/tips-for-finding-a-reliable-home-contractor

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