The right contractor can make or break your condo remodel, but with so many questionable, fly-by-night contractors out there, choosing the right one can be a project all its own. The pressure is high — you’ve budgeted a certain amount of money for this remodel, and if the contractor you choose does a bad job, you could wind up in a pretty tight spot. Here’s how to select a contractor you can trust to do your condo remodel right.
Know Exactly What You Want
You’ll get the best estimates if you have a detailed plan for your remodel. Contractors will need to see your place and fully understand the scope of the work before they can give you an accurate estimate. Be ready to spend time walking contractors through your condo and discussing the specifics of your desired renovation, including the materials you’d like used.
Ask People You Know for References
Your friends, family and neighbors are the best source for contractor references, especially if they’re in the building trades or have had similar work done recently. The best contractors still get most of their business via word-of-mouth, so start looking for contractors by asking around.
If no one knows anyone, check online reviews for the best contractors in your area. For example, if you live in Tampa and need a contractor to install or repair sheetrock, searching for online reviews will give you an idea of both the best contractors in the area and the ones you should probably avoid.
Vet Contractors Carefully
Once you’ve contacted some recommended contractors, vet them carefully. Check a contractor’s licensing, certification and litigation history. Ask for references from previous clients, and grill those past clients about:
- How the work has held up;
- Whether they were satisfied with it;
- Whether the contractor stayed on schedule;
- How he or she kept the work site;
- How he or she addressed problems;
- Whether he or she was punctual; and
- How fair his or her pricing was.
If possible, visit these former clients to get a look at the completed projects yourself.
Get Multiple Quotes
Once you’ve vetted some contractors, it’s time to get bids for your work. Get at least three quotes and make sure they include details about timeline, materials and total cost. Don’t let a contractor pressure you into accepting a bid without giving you at least a few days to think it over. Don’t automatically go with the lowest bid, either; a bid that’s significantly lower than the other two may be relying on shoddy materials or workmanship, or it may be the result of a contractor’s not fully understanding the scope of the work.
Your choice of contractor can mean the condo remodel of your dreams, or of your nightmares. Take the time to vet contractors properly, so your project can get done the right way, the first time.