3 Tips for Finding a Good Contractor
Before you ever get started on a new project around the house, my first recommendation is to consider the resale value of the project. Are you doing the project for you, for resale or both?
The average homeowner moves every 5-7 years. If you plan on never moving, go ahead and make a very personal choice on your updates. However if you think you might move again its important to consider the value a properly done remodel or renovation can add to the final sale price. Since I see so many homes, I’m happy to tell you what I think. We can also recommend architects and interior designers to provide some insight as well. We also recommend looking at the National Association Cost versus Value Report.
Once you’ve decided on the project, start talking to anyone and everyone who’s taken on a similar project. They can usually recommend some trustworthy contractors. We also deal with a a lot of contractors as we help our sellers prepare for the market. Always consider us a resource for all things real estate. As a last resort, Angie’s List and Thumbtack are typically good resources. You can usually get a good idea of what a project will cost based on some of the bids you will get from these sites. Both sites are now FREE to use as well.
2. Interview multiple people
Next, you want to make sure an interview a few different contractors for any given project. I always like to let the contractors know that we are getting multiple bids so they will put their best foot forward. I also recommend this because timing can prove to be a challenge. Sometimes the contractor you want to work with won’t be available for 6 months and you need it done in 2 weeks. It’s also important that you have a good line of communication. Some projects can take several weeks or months and it’s important that you can get along with your contractor for that length of time. Along with all of this you want to make sure that you get along with your contractor and that they understand your vision for the project. Home renovations are always a big investment and good communication can make or break the project.
3. Always negotiate
Lastly, once you decide on a contractor ask them one more time to give you their best price. It never hurts to ask and sometimes you can save a little bit more money on a project. It also helps to get to the bottom dollar in case you run into snags and have more expenses with the project than anticipated. I always recommend adding a 10-20% cushion into your budget to account for any issues that may come up. I also recommend paying your contractor after the job is done. Sometimes they will want money up front to cover costs, etc. If this is the case, break it into payments depending on the size and time the project requires. NEVER Pay a contractor in full up front. If any contractor is insistent that this is the only way they will work, get a new contractor.
In summary, think through your project and do your research. Ask friends or your favorite Realtor (hint, hint) who they recommend. Finally, push them to get to their best price, accounting for issues that may arise in your budget and never pay up front.