If you’re hiring a contractor for a big home improvement project, chances are you’re going to be disappointed. What you really need is someone who does quality work in a reasonable amount of time, understands exactly what it is you’re looking for, and that you can trust.
You’re paying good money for the work so you expect whomever you hire to meet those specifications. Unfortunately, if you don’t follow the three keys below, odds are that you won’t be happy with the work you pay for.
1) Start with Good Candidates
Nobody wants to pay more than they should for home repair but don’t just open up the phone book and pick the cheapest option. Price is just one part of the equation so basing your decision on that alone is setting yourself up for failure. Instead get referrals from people that have hired contractors for similar projects and were pleased with the work.
It may be easier to just call a few numbers from the yellow pages but its worth the time it takes to call up your friends and family and ask them if they’ve had similar work done and who they used. If you’re just looking for a list of contractors in your area who have done a good job for others, one option is to become a member of Angies List.
Members of the site leave ratings on local contractors they’ve used and you can just pick the ones that have the most ratings with the highest feedback. There is a monthly fee to belong but you can save some money with this list of Angies List coupon codes.
2) Get Multiple Estimates
Now that you have a short list of qualified contractors, the next step is to have them check out your specific project and give you an estimate of how much time and money it would take for them to complete it.
Often times we’re eager to get started so if the first bid you get seems reasonable and you like the contractor you may be tempted to just go with the first estimate. Just remember, it’s in your best interest to take the extra time and get at least two more estimates. Getting multiple bids allows you to compare prices, plus chances are each person or company that comes out will bring up some point or issue that the others left out.
Every contractor has different levels of experience in different areas so these multiple perspectives can be quite valuable. For example, we had three different companies give us a bid for the same foundation work and each one proposed a different solution with widely ranging costs.
3) Ask a Lot of Questions
When the contractors come out to give you an estimate make sure you are present and prepared to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the better idea you’ll have about how much it will cost, how long it will take, and how much experience they have.
The thing about kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovations, foundation repair, or any project is that at the beginning you and the contractor probably have a different picture in your head about what the finished product will be.
The more specific you can be, the greater your chances of getting an accurate estimate and something that fits the picture in your head. Both you and the contractor bring many different assumptions into the project so the more questions you ask the more surprises you can avoid and the more details you can hammer out.
About the Author: Ben is the author of Money Smart Life and it is a site built on the philosophy that we should use money to live our lives, instead of living our lives around money. Be sure to check out some of his latest money saving tips and subscribe to the RSS feed for more updates.
It's always a good idea to get a lot of different estimates as well as ask a lot of questions. So, I agree with those ideas. I never thought about the fact that different companies will offer different insights. It would be easy to see which ones had the most experience in the needed area. I hope I can find a good contractor when I need to remodel my house.
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