When your big plans for the family home involve moving a load bearing wall, relocating your master bath, or adding another level to your bungalow, you have to face the facts: you won’t be able to take on these projects by yourself. These are complex tasks that require the trained eye of an experienced professional. Adding a contractor to your plans is a big step; you have to trust they’ll complete these renos safely, so it’s important to make sure you find a contractor who meets your standards. If you aren’t sure how to vet the professionals, here are some tips to help you find the right person for the job.
Ask for recommendations
Family, friends, and neighbors who have recently done work in their homes are a good place to start your search. They’ll want to share their experiences with the contractors they chose, whether they’re good or bad. If their experience was good, you have a company to contact. If it was bad, you’ll know which contractor to avoid in the future.
Digitize your search
Gone are the days when you would open the Yellow Pages to find a contractor. Though the Yellow Pages still exist, they discontinued their door-to-door delivery back in 2015. Like most things, the Yellow Pages has gone digital. You can find their directory online with a few taps of your keyboard, but this is the least of your priorities when you have the Internet at your disposal.
The Internet is a great resource for finding a contracting company or for lurking on the company recommended by your neighbor. The company in question should have a professional looking website that offers examples of their previous work. It should also be easy to find reviews from previous customers. While not as trustworthy as a review from your brother, these reviews can give you a pretty good idea of how the contractor operates.
Once you’ve exhausted what you can find out online, you’ll need to contact your top choices. As an aside, you should meet with at least three contractors to get a good feel for what you can expect. When you first call them, talk to them about their credentials. They need to have certificates to prove they know how to support a house when moving a load bearing wall. Otherwise, you might as well take on this renovation yourself. A contractor should be registered, licensed, and bonded. They should also have worker’s compensation and liability insurance as a precaution for any accidents that might happen when they’re working.
Meet in person
If they can provide these basics, it’s time to interview your top choices. This is like any job interview; you want to find the right person for the job, so make sure your questions count. Ask about their previous work and insist on referrals from previous customers with examples of previous work. You should also talk to them about the project itself to see how they approach the task.
Get a quote
Most experienced contractors can estimate how much a project will cost, but it’s only a guess. These guestimated costs will likely vary from the cost of the finished project. A price quote or bid, on the other hand, is a written figure that provides a definite budget, and it’s legally binding. Since this involves pricing the cost of materials, labor, and licenses, a contractor will only submit it after they’ve organized the renovation. It should also include a schedule of work and payment details. You can use this quote to build your budget.
Most experts suggest you should exaggerate these costs to cover any unexpected issues with your renovations. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 10–25 percent to your budget in case things go wrong.
Starting a renovation emergency fund is easy when you have a lender like MoneyKey on their side. In addition to offering simple personal loans, they share budgeting guides and savings plans to help improve borrowers’ money management skills. To find out what kind of savings you can find in your utility bills, read this blog post from MoneyKey. It can help you keep more of your cash in your hands.
Of course, they also offer fast-acting online loans for when your emergency fund isn’t big enough. This speedy timeline is ideal for those last-minute additions to your budget — like when a contractor’s work reveals the wooden rafters and tie beams are rotting. Not only is rotting wood a safety problem, this issue can also put the brakes on the rest of your plans until you manage to fix it. Finding a solution that works as quickly as possible means your contractor can get back on track faster.
Contractors are an essential part of your plans when they involve complex renovations. That being said, you aren’t stuck with someone who isn’t the right fit just because they’re a professional. You can find a person who fits your budget and standards if you’re willing to put in the work.