Whether you’re renovating a historic home, building a new garden or totally overhauling a decrepit retail space, the process of selecting a trustworthy, expert contractor can be daunting. While it’s true that many a client has overpaid for subpar work and unexpected hidden fees, there are a series of general guidelines to follow in order to ensure your project gets completed exactly as you or the architect you’ve hired envision it.
Ask people you know. If a friend, colleague or family member has had a positive experience with a contractor who carried out a project similar to yours, then you’re certainly in luck, however…
Don’t hire a friend. It’s generally bad practice in any business, and if your friend happens to be a less skilled contractor than you expected, your relationship might unravel.
servicemagic.com is a great resource for finding the right contractor for your purposes. You can check off a series of boxes to narrow down the services and experience your project requires, and also read reviews by the contractors’ former clients.
“Homeowners, It’s Time to Think Like a General Contractor” by David Dillon is an excellent resource for every consideration in your project, from selecting a contractor through the project’s completion.
When looking at a contractor’s website, consider that new projects always look great. It’s a good sign if they have current photos of projects dating back further than five or six years.
Things become more complicated when subcontractors are involved. Be smart and don’t be afraid to ask questions. For instance, if your contractor says it’s going to cost $2,000 to hire a plumber to fix some leaking pipes, ask the contractor to see their contract with the plumber in order to figure out whether you’re getting ripped off.
It’s a good idea to see how the contractor and any subcontractors interact. In the long run, it will always pay off to hire someone who’s adaptive and creative over a cheaper option.
Learn how many projects the contractor is currently involved with. If they’re swamped, chances are they’re going to be less meticulous with your project.
You might be able to save a great deal by purchasing materials yourself. Of course, if those materials turn out to be flawed, the cost of repair is on you, not the contractor.