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Finding a good Contractor can be difficult. Judging a contractor’s knowledge experience can be next to impossible when you could be hiring someone because you don’t know how to do it yourself. And if you can ever get one on the phone, you may not know what to ask. The role contractor’s play in our lives is a big one. Their work directly impacts our quality of life. A contractor that is careless or is only pretending to know what they are doing can not only ruin the aesthetics of our home but turn a safe living environment into a danger zone. Here are a few things to consider when hiring a contractor.

1) Responsiveness

Communication is paramount in the construction industry. Without good communication mistakes get made. A contractor that doesn’t know how to communicate will do work in your home that you didn’t approve and charge you for it later, paint rooms the wrong color, not show up, or any number of other mistakes that could be avoided with a simple conversation. Being busy is no excuse to communicate poorly. Everyone has things come up, but that should be the exception and not the rule. When you are looking for a contractor, and it takes weeks for them to reply to you or there are long holds while you wait on updates, then you may need to keep looking. Client – Contractor relationships are built just like any other relationship, through trust and communication. When a contractor takes you on as a client, they are also taking on the responsibility of communicating with you, and if they don’t fulfill that responsibility, chances are that there are other aspects of their job that they are also neglecting. And beyond that, it will be a long and stressful project if you have to continuously chase down your contractor.

2) Presentation

First impressions go a long way, and a good contractor will present themselves professionally. You can tell if a contractor will do a good job, before he even presents an estimate. Thoroughness and care are not traits that only present themselves on a job site, they should permeate their life. Even if a contractor does really good finish work, but the way they present themselves is an utter mess, there is a good chance that they are covering up damages, using bad materials, or not protecting your home. A contractor should be organized, clean, and communicate in a professional manner.

3) Price

This is a tricky one. You will get a wide variety of prices from different companies for your project. You will get a price of $5,000 from one company to renovate a bathroom, then a price of $15,000 from another company for the same project. The easiest solution is to save money and go with the cheaper choice, but what if the cheaper contractor is scamming you? And what if the more expensive Contractor is overcharging you. Lots of people online tell you to get multiple quotes, but what happens when you don’t understand what you are looking at?

  1. Don’t go with the contractor that only gives you a number. You should receive a broken-down bid from a contractor. A contractor may not give you an itemized bid separating overhead costs from job expense costs clearly outlining what is and what is not mark up, not all companies are set up like that. And unlike what common opinion likes to suggest, a contractor’s markup is not negotiable. Contractors set their markup based on their overhead expenses, and just like they can’t negotiate their overhead, you can’t negotiate their markup. However, a broken-down bid is a reasonable request. A broken-down bid/quote shows that the contractor thought out your job and lowers the chances that they missed something. It also tells you exactly what you are getting for your money. If your contractor didn’t give you a broken-down bid/quote, there is a good chance you will be hit with a lot of overlooked charges throughout the course of the project
  2. If your job requires more than one trade, make sure your contractor is a general contractor. General Contractors have more connections, knowledge, and experience in handling jobs that require multiple trades than specialized contractors. General Contractors also have more overhead. They pay for more expensive software, higher insurance premiums, more employees, more tools, bigger buildings, etc. If you received a $5,000 bid from a decking contractor and a $15,000 bid from a general contractor to renovate your bathroom, remember the general contractor has more overhead. And also keep in mind that there is a very good chance that the decking contractor missed a lot in his estimate and didn’t account for it like the general contractor did. This is why the broken-down bid is important. Different price points don’t always indicate which companies charge more; it may be as simple as one company being more thorough then the other when they bid the job. As a side note, there are shady contractors who purposely under bid a job to secure it and add all kinds of changes and upcharges after the work is complete, and you end up paying the same amount of money you would have paid the other guy, you just have a worse finished product than he would have provided.
  3. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. A good contractor will cost more than the other guys. This doesn’t mean you should hire the most expensive contractor; it just means that you should keep in mind that a more expensive contractor will do better work.

4) Reviews

Take time to read what other people have to say about your contractor. This information is free and out there to help you make an informed decision, don’t ignore it. If your contractor has no online presence, chances are that they are avoiding that. Even a new company can make social media posts. Don’t make the mistake of picking the “incognito” contractor who wants nothing more than a check.

5) Q&A

A contractor should be a great source of information. If your contractor gets aggravated when you ask them questions, is very good at saying a lot while explaining nothing, can’t explain things in a way that makes sense, or just flat out refuses to answer you, he probably doesn’t know what he is doing. You are looking to hire a contractor because you either don’t have the knowledge or the time to do your project yourself. People fear what they don’t understand, and a good contractor recognizes the importance of giving you peace of mind to reduce stress throughout the duration of your project and will answer your questions. Nobody knows everything, but even a “let me get back to you on that,” is better than a non-answer. You shouldn’t leave every conversation that you have with your contractor more confused than you were before the conversation.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope it has been helpful. There are many more things to look for when hiring a contractor, and I will write about them in another post. This is a great place to start. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Click the “LETS CHAT” button and someone will get back to you shortly.

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