7 ways to ensure you get the right building contractor, these are the basic rules that you must follow to find a suitable and reliable home improvement contractor.
There are a couple of basic rules to remember when you’re searching for a suitable and reliable home improvement contractor.
Get several estimates, and speak to previous customers of each firm you’re looking at. You’d be astonished to learn how few people actually follow these simple guidelines, however.
No wonder there are so many consumer complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and other agencies, against contractors.
Hiring the best contractor is certainly not that easy: there’s a whole raft of other mistakes you can make during the searching, vetting, selection, and hiring process.
We’ve gathered a list of common pitfalls to avoid, to help you increase your chances of making a successful choice.
7 Ways to Ensure You Get the Right Building Contractor
It’s important to communicate clearly and frequently with your remodeling contractor.
Assuming that the people are honest, you’ll go a long way towards having the job done well if you ask straightforward questions and give them clear information about what you expect your home improvement project to achieve.
Then you must put your verbal communications in writing so that you’re protected if anything should go wrong.
Not getting a contractor in time
We’re all guilty of it at some time or another – waiting until things stop working or fall apart before calling in the experts.
Ignoring signs of trouble with your roof, your air conditioning or heating system, or your plumbing can make your repairs a lot more costly when you finally get ahold of someone who can fix things.
In some cases, if the situation is really bad, you might have to pay several hundred dollars to have, say, your heating system repaired to last you the week or two it takes to order a whole new system, which will set you back several thousand more.
In the middle of winter, you might not have much choice, but if you’d had your aging heating setup inspected in the summer you could simply have had it replaced and avoided the extra outlay and the hassle.
As soon as things start to go wrong, get a tradesman to come and check it out. Don’t turn a blind eye to a wet patch on the ceiling.
Switch your heating and air conditioning units on for an hour or two even when you don’t need them. When everything is operating properly, your household will cost less to run.
Trying to do it yourself
We all know someone who has embarked on a home improvement project they weren’t capable of carrying through.
This often ends badly and expensively, with the hapless DIYer having to engage a professional to sort out the mess and get the job done properly.
While there are people who are quite able to build their own deck or fence, paint the exterior of the whole house or do their own drywall repair, most of us should just place these jobs in the capable hands of a good contractor.
Hiring someone because he came to your front door
This is a no-brainer: never engage a person who just shows up on your doorstep and says he can fix your roof, trim your trees, or whatever.
Just don’t! Beware of falling for pitches, gimmicks and fast-talk about having leftover materials, doing a free inspection, or offering a special price for seniors.
If you think the person might just be genuine, by all means, ask for a business card and look up the company. If not, alert your neighbors and your local Better Business Bureau to his suspicious behavior.
Having something fixed without getting a true diagnosis
This happens quite frequently with drywall and roofing problems, although it can occur with any repair job.
If you have a leak or hole, don’t just ask someone to repair it. You must also make sure they find the source of the pre-existing water damage that can spread and undo the repairs, and even cause further serious problems.
On the other side of the coin you have contractors who claim the problem is bigger than it really is.
This is especially worrisome when you can’t see the problem area so easily – on the roof for example. If you’re not confident that the tradesman is being totally honest, find an independent inspector who can make sure that everything that needs to be fixed is fixed, and that things that don’t require any work don’t get it.
You must beware of ignoring sound advice from a contractor who says something does need attention, though, even if you have to dig deep into your pocket.
Judging the contractor solely by his bid
Estimates that are a lot higher or lower than most others can be puzzling. You should always ask why the contractor’s bid is so different from the others, in addition to checking that each one includes the same jobs and installations.
In many instances but not always, a low bid means a low standard of service.
However, high bids often don’t mean better work but are merely attempts to make a higher profit.
You might also get a high quote from a renovation contractor who is booked up and will only take on work if he can get an extra high fee.
Not shopping around
Wherever you live, you’re bound to find several different building contractors. Try looking a bit further afield if you can’t find what you’re looking for in your immediate area.
Many home improvement professionals are willing to travel to get good projects, particularly if you offer a lot of work.
And if you need someone on a regular basis for a job such as cleaning windows or landscaping, speak to your neighbors and see if you can get a person who will take on several clients in the same neighborhood.
Running a household is a bit like running a company. You’re the boss and the house is your factory.
When something goes wrong in the family, or with the house itself, you’re the one who has to make decisions and solve problems.
You’re probably also the hiring manager, so when you need to find someone who can handle repairs or renovations, it’s your job to get the right contractor.