10 Tips for Choosing a Contractor

Kitchen remodelTrusting a contractor to build an addition or remodel a kitchen isn’t just about the work performed. Because most work takes place when homeowners aren’t around, fully vetting a contractor by checking references, Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports and requiring insurance documents protects not just the project, but also the future.

1. Is the contractor licensed in the municipality and/or state where the work will be performed? Contact appropriate agencies like the BBB or the Secretary of for the contractor’s license information on file.

2.Get a handful of estimates to more fully compare project scope and pricing. Don’t settle for the first contractor, and be wary of any contractor that requires full payment up front, uses high-pressure sales tactics or asks for a signature before putting together an estimate.

3. Ask for three to five references to call and, with permission, visit to view the contractor’s work. Ask about timeliness and whether or not the project came in as estimated, if extra work was covered by a contingency fund and whether or not previous customers are happy with the final result.

4. Check out any available online reviews as well. Sites like the BBB and Angie’s List have quality reviews from real people.

5. Get a detailed contract including a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated and specific timelines. Get the contract and review the material costs to avoid unfair upcharges. A little time spent reviewing and price checking can mean money saved.

6. Be sure the contractor has a street address and not just a P.O. Box. It’s easy for companies to open a post office box or acquire a cell phone with a local number to give the appearance of being an honest and local company, when it is not.

7. Ask about warranty work and the company’s service policies. Shoddy work will usually be evident within a few months, and without a warranty in writing, the homeowner could be left without options.

8. Find out if the contractor has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, homeowners should find another contractor or they may be responsible for any accidents on their property while work is being done.

9. Is the contractor a member of a trade association such as the HBA (Home Builders Association)? Belonging to a professional trade association generally means the contractor stays current on industry standards and is committed to best practices for everything from customer service to safety.

10. Finally, make sure communication is open and easy. Feeling comfortable is key so trusting a gut reaction can save both time and money.

What did you learn from the first time you hired a contractor? Tell us in the comments!

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