The entire process of remodeling your home – no matter how big or small the project is – can be intimidating. It is every homeowner’s nightmare to have a bad experience with a contractor and end up with an incomplete or poorly constructed remodel. Unfortunately, for those who are uneducated or inexperienced in the realm of home remodeling, it is easy to be duped into hiring a bad contractor. But don’t worry, if you know the right steps to take, you won’t end up in regret! Here are 5 tried-and-true tips to help you choose a reputable contractor and avoid a bad home remodeling experience.
1. Hire a Designer
The first thing a homeowner needs to do before jumping into a remodeling project is hire a designer to create floor plans and designs that they are happy with. Having the plans already drawn before getting competitive bids provides an apples-to-apples method for comparing contractors, and will also prevent any confusion of what the homeowner wants.
2. Do Your Research
As with any big decision, it’s important to do thorough research on the company or contractor you’re considering hiring for your project. Utilize the reviews that are available on various sites online, not just on the contractor’s website. If possible, talk to at least 3 references for each contractor and ask questions such as:
• Did the project turn out like you wanted?
• Was the end cost equal to or less than what you were quoted?
• Was the project completed in the timeframe you expected?
Personally talking to homeowners that have used the contractor in the past is one of the best ways to get an honest review.
3. Ask the Contractor about Building Permits
We recently had a client call us requesting that we create a set of plans for her outdoor kitchen that another contractor had already built. The issue was that the contractor she used did not get the required building permits from the city before the construction began, so she needed plans to be drawn and submitted to the city in order to obtain the permits. This can be a BIG mess if your project is not approved by the city first, and can actually lead to your structure being torn down if it is not to code! Yikes! It’s definitely worth it to do it right the first time!
4. Get a Written Contract
Written contracts are a MUST when remodeling your home. Even if a contractor seems like an honest person that you can trust, verbal agreements are not enough. You never know what could happen as the job progresses. It’s important to have a written contract, signed by both parties, that covers the details of the job. The details should include the scope of work to be completed, a payment breakdown and schedule, the project warranty and timeline, etc. Some contractors also list items that are not included in the scope of work, which is also a good way to prevent misunderstandings by either party.
If you are not comfortable reviewing contracts on your own, try asking a family member or close friend to review it for a second opinion.
5. Have a Clear Payment Schedule
The payment schedule is the timeline in which funds are applied to the project. It’s important that the payment schedule is balanced so that the contractor does not get too far ahead or too far behind financially. Ideally, payments should be made at specific milestones throughout the project, such as when the demo is complete, when the drywall is installed, etc. It’s a good rule to have a payment schedule set up and agreed on before the project begins to avoid issues down the road. Even if it is a small project, the best practice is not to pay the entire cost up front – it should be a huge red flag if a contractor requests this!
While these 5 tips are just the beginning, they should help tremendously to ‘weed out’ the bad contractors and get your project started off in the right direction! If you’re feeling intimidated about hiring the right contractor or have additional questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’d be happy to assist you with your home remodeling needs!
The Medford Remodeling Team