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How to Choose a Contractor for Your Home Remodel

Sometimes, the most difficult aspect of a home improvement project is choosing a remodeling contractor. In order to ensure you’re on the path to a fantastic home upgrade, we’ve put together a few steps for you to take during the selection process. So, here are six things to consider when choosing a contractor for your next home remodel project.

Know What You Want

The first step in choosing the right remodeling contractor is all about you and your home.  Have a plan.  Decide what and how you want to remodel. Not only does having a plan make it easier to get an accurate estimate, you’ll also be able to compare estimates more easily.

If contractors aren’t willing to stick to your vision during the conversation, you know it’s time to take your business elsewhere.

Ask Your Friends and Family

Good home remodeling contractors generate a lot of positive recommendations. Ask your friends, family, neighbors and other acquaintances if they have ever worked with a contractor that they liked. Asking not only helps you narrow down your list, but also who to avoid. Knowing who does, and doesn’t, do a good job is an important part of how to choose a contractor for your home remodel.

Look for Online Reviews

Online reviews can be very helpful. Look for places where reviews are harder to fake, such as Angie’s List and Yelp, as well as social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll get to see a broad range of experiences customers have had with the contractors you’re researching.

Look for how the contractor handles a complaint. If they’re cordial and work to resolve an issue online, you can expect similar treatment during your project.

Speak With Multiple Contractors

After you’ve gotten recommendations and checked online, it’s time to call a few contractors.

Always get multiple bids on your project. Even if you absolutely love the first plan you get, stopping there means you’ll never know if the quote you received offers a good value. Home remodeling contractors may charge different rates because they may have different specialties, so getting multiple bids is a good idea.

Phone interviews are a good idea during the initial stages of choosing a remodeling contractor. Be sure to ask if they work on projects of your size, and what their availability is for interior and exterior projects.

You should also learn what licenses are required where you live. This will allow you to determine if your contractor is properly certified. Getting this information from multiple contractors may also reveal someone who is not being honest about what permits need to be obtained before work can begin.

Check References and BBB Ratings

When you speak with contractors, get the official name of their registered business.

References, such as current customers and subcontractors, can help you learn about the quality of the work. Current customers can share personal experiences and subcontractors can provide red flags, such as not paying on time or cutting corners by using less than stellar materials.

The official name of the contractor’s business will help you properly search the Better Business Bureau for complaints and other problems the contractor has experienced in the past. The BBB can help you see how well problems were resolved too.

Knowing their official name will also help you check their licenses, and it will help you verify what professional organizations they’re a part of in your area.

Seek Well Defined Bids

When you’ve found a few contractors you like, it’s time to get bids from them. Have a conversation with each potential home remodeling contractor and define your plans. Show them any blueprints you have. Tell them what you’re willing to spend and ask for a full quote.

To best compare your bids, ask each contractor to provide details about the costs for labor, materials and other expenses. This Old House says materials should represent about 40% of your total cost, another 40% should be allocated to labor and other expenses, and up to 20% should be used for the profit margin.

Once you have a bid you like, start the negotiation process. Make sure the contract is detailed and that you’re comfortable with it before the project starts. Once work begins, communication is the key to a happy and successful home remodel.

References:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20539027_21071438,00.html
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/resource-center/choosing-a-contractor/overview/index.htm
http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/11/14/18-tips-for-finding-a-reliable-home-contractor

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