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Hiring a Contractor

Part 1 of 2

by Jill Santandrea, Broker Manager, EXIT Homestead Realty Professionals

Many homeowners take on small renovation projects themselves, and if you are qualified to do that, pat yourself on the back. Larger projects usually require hiring a contractor, including kitchen or bathroom overhauls and home additions. Regardless of the project, finding the right person for the job can be a challenge. I am going to offer you some tips to help you narrow your list. Hiring a contractor can be stressful. Try following these guidelines to help you hire the right person for the project.

Get referrals. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for the names of contractors or professionals they have used and make a list.

Get in touch. Once you have a list, call them and ask if they specialize in your type of project. For example, if you’re renovating your kitchen you’ll want someone that has completed several similar renovations; they’ll know applicable regulations and codes that pertain to your project. Ask how many other projects they are working on at the moment as this may impact their availability for your project.

Research your options. Contact the Better Business Bureau and your state’s consumer protection agency to review their reputation. Check online consumer reviews. If possible, ask for references and call previous clients. Go and see completed projects if it’s convenient. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Be aware that if you use an unlicensed contractor to save money, you may be responsible for any work that is not up to code or injuries a worker incurs on the job.

Meet the contractor in person. Meeting face-to-face allows you to ask more questions and provide insight into their character and attention to detail in the way they present their company. Since you’ll be working closely with them and they will be in your home, you’ll want to make sure you trust them and feel at ease with them.

Get estimates. Ask for an estimate and have them break down the costs, by materials, labor and expenses. They will likely ask about your budget and expected start times. When you review the estimates, keep in mind that materials alone tend to make up about 40 percent of the total cost. So, if a bid seems too low, the company may have cut corners. Similarly, a high price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality.

When I’m working with a seller who is thinking about a renovation, I am able to refer them to reputable contractors and tradespeople in their local area and advise on renovations that may or may not increase the value of their home. See you next week.