How to Choose the Right Contractors
If this is your first renovation or remodeling project, welcome to the club! It's the experience of a lifetime. You'll learn so much. It's incredibly rewarding to watch your fixer-upper become a dream home.
The process is also challenging. There will be ups and downs, budget hassles, and timeline hiccups. It just comes with the territory. No contractor can see through walls, and even the very best of them deal with employees calling in sick and inclement weather issues.
But selecting the right contractor for the job is one of the most important choices homeowners face. Here at Worthington Millwork we're not contractors, but we work with them closely. We've heard plenty of horror stories from both sides: homeowners who got burned, and contractors who find themselves working with ridiculous clients.
Know that research reigns supreme when it comes to your choice in contractors. Read on to learn how to choose the best one for your project.
Have a Plan Before You Call Contractors
You'll need to communicate well with your chosen contractor.
- Start a notebook for your project.
- As you research materials, styles, and architectural finishes, print up photos of your favorites and keep them.
- Having a clear plan and visuals will help you communicate your ideas.
- Check out interior and exterior design ideas online, and visit our blog for more inspiration.
Once you've got some ideas in hand, then start the search.
Play the Referral Game
New sources Angie's List and Craigslist.com make it easy to contact the contractors in your area. Take these listings with a grain of salt, however, and do more research. When reaching out to a new contractor, describe your needs and ask them:
- Have you done this type of work before?
- Have you finished any projects in my neighborhood I can look at?
- Do you have local referrals?
- Can I see photos of your work?
Sometimes a neighbor or family member will turn you on to a good contractor. Again, do your due diligence before you hire them!
No License = No Contract
The best advice we could give renovation newbies is to do your research. Most states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed. Not sure about your state? Home Advisor published this handy reference, last updated in 2019.
Even if your state doesn't require a license to do construction work or trade skills in your home, you should.
- Research their license numbers with your local zoning authority or city hall.
- Don't assume that a business card with a license number on it is legitimate.
- Unscrupulous individuals will even publish advertising with fake license numbers on them.
This is vital because some homeowner's insurance policies will not cover injuries that happen to an unlicensed contractor working on your house!
Insurance Topics for Homeowners
Speaking of HO insurance, you should check with your agent to see if you have enough liability coverage on your homeowner's policy. It would be a real tragedy for a laborer to get injured at your home and sue you beyond your liability coverage.
Expect to Wait For Quality Work
The best contractors will be booked for months to come. Don't expect them to start on your project right away.
- If the contractor you're interested in is ready to start work tomorrow, it's a red flag!
We're not saying that new businesses don't need the work, or that you shouldn't give them a chance. But if you want the best work done on your dream home, be ready to wait for it.
Pay Attention to Paperwork
Have you ever heard that adage "the devil's in the details?" In our tech-savvy era, it's all too easy for an imposter to fake a company letterhead for a quote. Don't accept quotes / bids via a text message, or casual emails. Before you give anyone the go-ahead to start work, read the contract carefully. You're looking for:
- specific line items detailing the labor and materials involved
- thorough details and descriptions of materials - colors, thicknesses, styles, manufacturers and part numbers
For instance, don't accept a bid that says "bathroom remodel - $8,000". You need to know which faucets, which tiles, which architectural finishes, and what model of toilet you're going to end up with. Should a contractor get flustered by your need for detail, maybe they aren't the best choice for the job.
At Worthington Millwork, our role is to provide the most beautiful American-made goods to home builders and home owners. We've built our success by providing superior customer service, outstanding lead times, and a wide range of architectural finishes to accommodate almost any taste.
We're not contractors, but we might know some great ones in your area. We'd love to hear about your project, so get in touch with us today! And remember that research reigns supreme in the world of renovation.