Tackling home renovation projects can feel overwhelming—what exactly do you want done, who is going to do it, and where do you begin? Finding the right local contractor to complete your project is such a pivotal piece of any home project.
How to get started
Before beginning your search for a contractor, it’s important to know exactly what you want completed as well as what is financially feasible.
Know what you want:
- Draw an outline or sketch a rough floor plan to help communicate your vision and to ensure your needs are understood.
- Take photos when you see something you like. Also, look at online sites like Pinterest and offline architectural and home design magazines for inspiration.
- Research cabinets, flooring, windows, fixtures, etc. to get an idea of what you like and pricing.
- Determine your time frame for starting and completing the project and when you want construction to take place.
Have your finances in order before reaching out to contractors:
- Set a budget to control costs.
- Talk with your banker about finance options.
How to find a remodeling contractor
Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want, it’s time to find the right local contractor to help.
Here are a few tips:
- Word of mouth is usually the best form of advertising. Talk to family, friends, and coworkers. Be specific in what exactly you want done or the type of contractor you are looking for.
- Ask for contractor recommendations at plumbing, electrical, and roofing supply houses.
- Lumberyards usually have contractor cards available. Don’t forget to look beyond the big box retailers and into small town lumberyards.
- Local contractors are often building new homes in the area. Check out new homes going up for potential leads.
- Many communities have a Parade of Homes event that gives you an opportunity to tour homes newly built by contractors in your area.
How to select a remodeling contractor
After you’ve identified a few potential contractors, you’ll need to contact them to discuss your project.
Set up a meeting with each contractor you are considering:
- Describe the scope of the work to be performed.
- Listen, take notes, and be open to new ideas.
- Request the base bid separate from any possible add-ons to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples with other proposals.
- Observe the contractors and how they carry themselves to determine if you are comfortable working with or having them in your home.
- Let the contractor know when you want work to start.
Ask the contractor questions:
- What is the contractor’s typical schedule/working hours?
- When could the project begin?
- How long will the project take?
- Is the contractor insured and licensed?
- Will the contractor perform all the work, or will subcontractors be involved? Who are those subcontractors?
- Who will handle permits?
- When can I expect an estimate?
- Ask for 3 references.
Evaluate the options:
- Review notes taken during each meeting.
- Review and compare bids.
- Call the references to ask about their experience with the contractor and the quality of work.
- Get clarifications on anything you don’t fully understand.
- Select the contractor that best fits your needs.
Hopefully these tips will help you feel more comfortable and confident in starting your home renovation project. After your project is complete, it’s important to contact your home insurance company to update your policy and ensure your new investment is properly protected.