How to Pick the Best Contractor for Your Renovation

How to Pick the Best Contractor for Your Renovation

March 28th, 2023

Being a homeowner is a huge responsibility, but it's also an opportunity to create the home of your dreams. And while you might be tempted to tackle all of the projects on your own, there will come a time when you need to call in a professional. Whether it's for a simple repair job or a complete home renovation, it's important that you take the time to find a good contractor who will do the job right. But how do you know if a contractor is good? Here are some things to look for:

1. A Good Reputation

One of the best ways to find a good contractor is to ask around for recommendations. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors and see if they have any suggestions. Ask specific questions such as “How was the company’s communication?” or “Did your project go over the timeline?” You’ll get a complete sense of whether their contractor was trustworthy and reliable. You can also check online review sites like Yelp or Angi. Pay attention to positive and negative reviews to get a well-rounded picture of the contractor's work. Further, check out the company’s social media. You’ll see the full scope of projects they’ve worked on from beginning to completion. Finally, dig into the comments to see if any concerning messages come from customers.

2. Proper Licensing and Insurance

Before hiring a contractor, ensure they are correctly licensed and insured. In most states, contractors must have a license to do work on your home. You can check with your state's licensing board to verify that the contractor is licensed and in good standing. A good contractor will be able to produce proof of insurance, should you ask. Ensuring that your contractor is insured is extremely important as it will protect you in case of any accidents or damage during the project.

3. Communication

At the beginning of your renovation journey, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. An established contracting company will put your mind at ease and be responsive throughout the process. You want to be sure that you’re in the loop for any delays, changes in the timeline, or supply issues, and your contractor should be voicing these issues to you. Further, a company that answers questions in a timely manner, even if there are many, is a good indication that they're trustworthy and fully empathetic to your needs.

4. A Detailed Estimate

While considering hiring a contractor, be sure to get a detailed estimate of all the costs involved in the project. The estimate should encompass a detailed plan of every phase of the project, so there are no surprises later. Once you have the estimate, take some time to compare it with other contractors' estimates to make sure you're getting the best value for your money. A superior contracting company will go through the estimate with you should you have any questions—which you will. Taking the time to discuss the scope of work is essential so that you understand the details of the entire project.

5. A Written Contract

When starting a home improvement project, it is essential to remember to get everything in writing. A written contract will spell out all the project details, including start and completion dates, payment terms, and what kind of warranty or guarantee is included. This will protect you and the contractor if there are any misunderstandings later on down the road. Ensure you understand all the contract terms before signing it and don't hesitate to ask for clarification if needed. With everything in writing, you can be sure that your home improvement project will go smoothly from start to finish.

Contractor Red Flags

  • Few or No Reviews: Certainly, you can’t cross a contractor off the list for not having a slew of public reviews, but often, a lack of transparency on the internet isn’t favorable.
  • Habitually Late or No Show: People on the internet will tell you whether this is a problem. Check their reviews (see above) to decide whether this might be an issue.
  • Unresponsive: If you’re contacting a company for an estimate or a bid, and they take their time getting back to you—or don’t at all, you should probably stay away from that contractor. If they’re not responsive from the first interaction—it’s a good indication of how the renovation process would be handled.
  • They Ask for Cash Payments Upfront: Sure, money is money, but if a contractor pressures you to pay cash upfront, you might want to pause. Why are they pushing for cash payments? Cash leaves little paper trail, making it harder to hold the company accountable should things go south.

Picking a good contractor doesn't have to be difficult or scary. With a little research, you’ll get a good feel for the company and whether you’d like them to take on your project. Follow these tips, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, and you can find a qualified professional who will do a great job on your home improvement project—and give you peace of mind in the process. Download the Top Remodeling Trends in 2023 Guidebook to give yourself the most up-to-date ideas for bringing beauty, luxury, and new life to your home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Always do your research.
  • A reputable contractor will show you that they’re trustworthy before work starts.
  • Trust your instinct.