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January 14, 2021

How to Pick the Right Home Improvement Contractor for Your Home

Now that you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen, master bathroom, or unfinished basement, you’re probably more than ready to get the ball rolling. Whether or not you have experience with home improvement projects, it’s a wise decision to consider hiring a home improvement contractor to take over and oversee the project from its early beginnings to its finishing touches. This not only ensures that your home remodelling project is carried out efficiently, but also that you’re enlisting the help of top-notch professionals each and every step of the way.

What is a home improvement contractor?

Most people are familiar with wedding planners—professionals in the wedding space who specialize in planning and coordinating every single aspect of a bride and groom’s wedding day. A wedding planner works closely with each and every wedding vendor, from the photographer and videographer to the venue and the catering company, to ensure that every detail during the planning stages as well as the day of goes perfectly as planned. A home improvement contractor plays very much the same role—except not for your wedding, of course.

A home improvement contractor is a  professional who works closely with you to understand your design vision and remodeling goals and then coordinates the creation and direction of the construction project with every vendor along the way. “A contractor handles everything, from calling the plumber, drywall people and electrician to coordinating the demolition crew, carpenter and every other trade that’s required to achieve your desired results,” explains Eden Rush, Field Supervisor at Smart Homes Contractors, Inc. in Studio City, California. “As a contractor, I use my years of experience in the industry to gain a greater understanding of the client’s wants and needs and then translate that to the vendors—basically taking all of the hard work off of the homeowner and managing the entire project myself.”

Why you should hire a contractor

Whether you’re building an entirely new home from the ground up or renovating an old kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, hiring a professional renovation company  is one of the smartest decisions you can make. While some states, including California, allow you to do the bulk of the work, this would still include some of the lesser known aspects of a home renovation project, including filing all of the necessary permits and bringing everything up to recent codes. In short, you need the time and knowledge in construction that most people simply don’t have. What’s more, you probably don’t have a digital rolodex of professional, hard working, financially efficient and accountable vendors to call upon to get each and every job done to its best ability. A home remodeling  contractor does.

By hiring a renovation contractor you can also expect to save money. “A good contractor has the contacts to buy materials for cheaper and give you advice that will save you a lot of money in the long run,” explains Rush. “A good contractor will also do the job once so that you don’t have to redo and redo and redo, which is not only financially cost-worthy, but also incredibly time-consuming.” In addition to having someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry in your corner, hiring a contractor gives you the assurance that the final product won’t only look just like those pictures you saved to Pinterest, but you will also feel confident that each and every nut and bolt used to hold up your new renovation is of the highest and most durable quality.

Ready to hire a home improvement contractor? Here are five steps to get the job done right.

1) Reach out to your network for recommendations

One of the best ways to find any type of assistance is to seek out recommendations of those whom you trust most. Reach out to friends, family, co-workers, neighbors whose home you admire, etc. and see if they know of any local remodeling contractors in the area who you should consider. If you have an online forum in your area or a social media page for your town or district, consider posting on there for recommendations. You never know who may have just finished a home renovation or remodeling project of their own and may have just the recommendation you’re looking for.

Another great reason to seek out recommendations is so that you cast a wide net and hopefully get a hearty list of contractors to then research and choose from. This way you can narrow down your list to only the contractors you believe are most capable of doing the job well.

2) Investigate and scout out each contractor

Once you have a solid list of contractors who have been recommended to you by your network, vet each one as best you can. This means scouting out their website to make sure that they run a professional, reputable renovation company and that they seem approachable. It’s most ideal if you can find a contractor who specializes in the type of home renovation or remodeling project that you’re looking to do. For example, someone who specializes in kitchen remodeling might not be the best contractor to hire for a master bathroom renovation. Some remodeling contractors, however, don’t have an exact speciality and are more of a jack of all trades.

While you’re doing your research and vetting each contractor, find out whether or not they hold the necessary certifications and licenses required by the state and local municipalities. Also, see if they have any degrees or have taken any courses that further credit their abilities. If this information is not readily available on their website, make a note to ask them when you’re in contact at a later date.

Each renovation contractor should have a contact section that allows you to send them a message directly or contact them at their headquarters via phone and/or email.

3) Contact and meet with home improvement contractors

Consider this next step like an interview process, where you contact each contractor. It’s important, however, not to reach out to too many—two to three is ideal, according to Rush, as any more than that will prevent you from giving each the attention they deserve. It’s important that you feel a positive connection with each contractor upon speaking to them. “You want to find someone with a great energy, connection, someone who can listen to you and someone you click with,” says Rush. “Especially with more complicated projects like bathroom or kitchen remodeling, there is usually a lot of preparation required in addition to the time it will take them to accomplish the goal, so you want to hire someone who you can effectively communicate with throughout the process.”

4) Ask for references

Having vetted clients who you can contact for references before hiring a remodel contractor is invaluable—and this should be in addition to any friends or family members who’ve sent you in the direction of said contractor. References not only give you a thumbs up, but they can tell you specifics that can help steer your decision. Show up to the call with questions prepared, including whether or not the contractor was able to complete the project in a timely manner, if they were able to stay within budget throughout the project, if they were easy to communicate with and if there were any obstacles along the way that they were able to work through.

5) Compare quotes

Budget is important and should not be treated as insignificant in the slightest. That being said, it’s important to be realistic with your budget and compare the pricing of the remodeling contractors to whom you’ve spoken. “At the end of the day, the prices won’t vary too much if you’re taking the same level of skilled contractors,” notes Rush. “If there is a huge difference in prices, there is going to be a huge difference in the quality of the experience.” In other words, if the prices are similar between contractors, they are likely of the same caliber.

Rush and his team are very budget-oriented, but their pricing does not stray too far from the average for each type of remodeling project. “Budget is very important for the customer so if we’re not in their budget we will do everything we can to help them stay in budget,” he says. “If it means they have the budget for the work, but are limited when it comes to the materials, we will do everything we can to keep them in the budget for both.”