Tips for Finding the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Projects

by Ben SanfordApril 30, 2018

Getting the Best Contractor at a Price You Can Afford

Putting together a budget for a home improvement project can be a daunting process in itself. Add in the task of finding, vetting, and hiring a contractor to complete the work, and it can seem all but impossible for anyone without contemporary construction management experience. But the reality is that the process doesn’t necessarily have to be so intimidating.

Finding and working with a contractor that fits within your budget, does quality work, and leaves you with the bathroom, kitchen, additional bedroom, or home of your dreams is possible. According to HGTV, it’s also a challenge and one that you really want to get right. Here’s how to go about doing it.
finding a contractor

Word of Mouth and Referrals

One of the most important parts of finding the right contractor for your home improvement project involves relying on your personal network. Among your friends, coworkers, and family members, there are likely several people who have been right where you are now. When starting the process, reach out to your network(s) and ask for referrals first.

Ask the people you know about contractors they’ve worked with, how things worked out, and who they would work with again (if anyone). Ask them who they would refer their mother to if their mother needed to remodel her kitchen or bathroom. And don’t just stop when you hear the first glowing story. You’ll want a few contractors to choose from when the time comes.

Portfolio Evaluation and References

Once you’ve reached out to your network and amassed a list of potential contractors that your friends, family, or coworkers would do business with again, it’s time to do your research on them. Take a look at their online portfolios and get a feel for the kind of work they do best.

Once you’ve narrowed your list a bit by looking at their resume, ask your semifinalists for references. The glowing review that your uncle gave a contractor buddy may not hold up to scrutiny once you’re having a conversation with another of their former clients, but you’d never know. Use these references to narrow your list down to at least three contractors.
finding a contractor

The Bidding Process and Contracts

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential contractors down to three finalists whose work you admire and who have an impeccable track record, it’s time to solicit bids. Get your remodel plan, your wants and deal breakers, and wrap your head around your budget prior to calling your contractors in for a site visit.

Your contractors may (and most likely will) charge a nominal fee for the site visit and bid. Sometimes this fee is deducted from the cost of the job if you hire a  particular contractor. Pay for the bids; it’s the only way to get a solid handle on how much you could or should be paying for the job. During the site visit, asks every question you can think to ask. You should prepare an extensive list of questions, including some of the ones below.

  • What times will you and your team be on the property?
  • Will you obtain any necessary permits for the work being done if need be?
  • Will the area of my home being worked on be cleaned upon the completion of the work?
  • How will my personal items be protected?
    finding a contractor

Making Sure You Get the Best Work for Your Budget

Once you’ve received the bids from your finalists, you will need to sit down and make an educated decision. The conventional wisdom (for what it’s worth) says to take the bid in the middle, throwing out the highest and lowest bids. This doesn’t always yield the best result. But, doing your homework in advance should leave you with a comfortable choice between the best of three or more great contractors for your home improvement project.

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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.