Searching for the right contractor for your remodeling or expansion project is more important than selecting the right materials, though many homeowners spend far less

Do some research to find the best contractor for your project.

time doing so. You should invest some time in doing research, double-checking information, and interviewing potential contractors and their previous clients, and more time in analysis and evaluation. In this way, you are more likely to have a pleasant and successful remodeling experience.

What are the musts for a contractor?

1. A contractor should have a strong track record and a number of successes in your community. These businesses will be well established, they will be known in and by members of the community.

2. A contractor should and must be properly licensed and insured to complete the kind of work you need. In this way, you won’t have issues or safety concerns. So just how do you confirm if he or she has the proper license? You need to first check with your State Department of Commerce or with the State licensing board. Make sure that the contractor you are considering is armed with a current and valid license to do that specific kind of work. The best people to tell you if your chosen contractor has the General Liability Insurance and Worker’s Compensation Insurance are the licensing board officers.

3. It is also desirable that the contractor is a member of the National Association for the Remodeling Industry. Contractors with memberships in trade organizations like this one usually have certain membership advantages compared to others. For instance, some trade organizations update their members with the industry’s latest products, the newest and safest construction techniques, appropriate business practices, and the current issues and concerns within the industry.

4. It also advisable for you to check the legitimacy of your contractor with the State Attorney General’s Office.

5. The best contractor for the job will readily offer you experience, capability, quality, and an affordable price. Some of these pieces of information and queries should be asked of the contractor; while some should be asked of other people, especially his previous customers. It is vital to address all of these questions with each contractor you find. Then, you could compare the information you received from all of them.

As for evaluating the contractor’s track record and experience, make sure you look for experience similar to the kind of work you are thinking of, not just general and basic experience. In this way, you will be able to determine the capability of the contractor to complete your project with the level of quality you want.

You could also ask the contractor to clarify to you the building codes set for your neighborhood. Does he or she plan to work up to code, or exceed it? Also, make sure you discuss with your potential contractor the materials and the work quality you wish to achieve. Will he or she use low-grade or mid-grade materials for your home? What could be the difference in the quality of the completed work if one is used over the other? As another example, for the painting, will there be a primer coat first? How many coats of paint will be applied?

Get a written estimate from all of the contractors that you are considering. When you are comparing these estimates, don’t just look at the bottom line.  Be sure that you are also comparing the quality of materials specified, and the tasks and labor  included.

Remember that a reputable and good contractor will expect and answer your questions about quality, capability and experience. The right contractor for your project should be more than willing to explain how the cost estimate was calculated. Actually, this query stage may be the first important test to determine whether the contractor you are considering is a reliable person for your desired project, design, and implementation.

What are the warning signs you should know to avoid a contractor who won’t do a good job for you?

The best contractors will be more than willing to listen to your questions, goals, and desires in terms of the appearance and quality of the finished work, and most especially, your budget. He of she is the right one if you can communicate your needs easily, clearly, and most important, effectively. He or she should be able to outline all of the costs needed for the project implementation and duration. He or she should have great ideas about the design, without the desire to force his or her suggestions on you. A good one will also try to help you with your decisions, as they will affect the outcome of the project and its costs.

On the other hand, someone who you find it difficult to communicate with will most likely not be a good choice. A bad contractor is someone who talks down to you. He or she could have the know-it-all attitude. A contractor who is indifferent toward your project is someone you should stay away from. A contractor who cannot present a clear and well-explained outline of the work and the schedule probably will not work out.

How can you avoid these contractors?

It is your responsibility as the client and homeowner to avoid bad contractors. Here are a few key things to keep in mind during the decision-making process:

One of the very first things to do is to check with the state licensing board if the contractor’s license is current and valid for work. Check to see if the license has ever been revoked or suspended for any reason in the past.  You could verify with your local court system if there have been cases that involved the contractor. The third step is to contact the local Better Business Bureau to discover if there have been problems or complaints about him or her. If so, ask how those complaints and problems were resolved by the contractor.  If there were complaints, they may not have been the contractor’s fault.

Lastly, ask his or her previous customers if they were satisfied with the contractor’s quality of work. Ask how the contractor conducted business with them, if the job was finished on time and the budget was adhered to, how the work site was maintained, and the way the crew members treated the homeowner’s property and family. Ask if they encountered any problems and how the problems were resolved. And finally, ask if they would recommend the contractor to anybody without hesitation, and if they would get the contractor again for another project.

Keep in mind that jobs are different as much as people are. Review the completed jobs that are similar to your project. But since no project will be 100% perfect, things could go wrong. If you encounter problems on previous projects, try to determine whether the contractor was at fault or not, and how the problem was resolved.

You just have to do a little research, take on some good conversations with potential contractors and their previous clients, and be willing to trust your instincts, so you can find the right contractor for your remodeling job.

If you would like some help locating contractors in your area, click here to use our referral service.