Hiring a Contractor can be overwhelming.

You want to get the most out of your investment, and you want to ensure that the job is thorough.

But how do you know if you’ve found the right contractor?

I had just moved into my new house and wanted to spruce it up.

I called a contractor but didn’t know what to include in the essentials to provide me with an estimate.

My father-in-law came over to help me out, and we started our checklist.

Table of Contents hide

The Project You Want to Do and Your Budget Expectations

Engineers looking at project. Team of builders working with document. Home renovation concept.
What are your project needs and expectations?

Do you want to do a kitchen renovation, bathroom makeover, or lawn care services?

Do you have a contractor in mind already, or are you starting from scratch?

One of the best contractor’s recommendations is to write down your project needs and expectations.

Provide your contractor with the necessary information on what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

Then, help the contractor understand your budget limitations to give a better estimate for the project.

What contractor services Do You Seek?

It is vital to write down what contractor services you’re looking for, even if it’s just one contractor service.

For example, if you only need a contractor to repair damages in the house exterior,

You list that as a contractor service.

Why do you need contractor service?

Make sure to write down why contractor service is necessary in your case.

Also, it’s best to be as descriptive as possible when describing the contractor service.

This way, there won’t be any miscommunications or misunderstandings.

What is your residential real estate profile?

– City?

– Name of your neighborhood?

– What is your zip code?

– If there is a specific style that you hope the contractor specializes in, identify it.

Research contractor service providers online.

All the research is online. Cropped image of man and woman working on laptop while sitting at their desks in the classroom
All the research is online

It’s time to do some contractor service research.

contractor service reviews on the Internet are an excellent way to learn more about contractor services you might need for your home project.

Extra Tip:

Take Time to Settle Your Agreement Before any work starts.

 Make sure to take time settling an agreement with the contractors who will be completing the project.

Reach out if there are unforeseen issues during the project.

Never hesitate to reach out when there are unforeseen issues during The Project.

Sometimes it might be as simple as needing a different contractor to help with The Project.

Remember Your Expectations

Remember your expectations from the contractor.

If you feel as though your contractor didn’t meet them, create a new contractor profile for future use,

If not, then consider giving them a REVIEW on HomeAdvisor

Simply go to HomeAdvisor.com

You can then review other contractors who work for similar projects like yours!

Check out other contractor profiles by clicking “write service review” next to their listing.

Be sure to include areas of concern and what you think they can improve on in the future.

Be sure to include how well they did and any suggestions you have on improving the relationship in the future.

Are you looking for assistance finding a contractor or want to give some feedback? Write a comment below!

Do you need contractor assistance? Describe what project you’d like done and your budget (don’t worry about your zip code at this time).

Budgeting

How much contractor service fees can you pay?

Now it’s time to write down contractor service fees for the contractor services that you mentioned in the first step.

Consider all of your project costs and see how much contractor service fees you can afford.

If needed, talk to a financial advisor about how much contractor service fees are affordable for you.

Young African American student calculating expenses, thinking how to pay debt
What’s your budget?

What does the cost include?

Make a checklist of everything before meeting with the contractor.

You won’t forget anything important.

You should also ask the contractor the necessities before proceeding with other things or priorities.

It will be easier for the contractor to work when he knows what has to come first.

This way, he can plan his schedule better, whether it would require renting extra equipment or asking for more workers.

Do contractor services require permits?

It’s best to write down contractor services requiring permits.

Avoid contractor service offers that don’t include permit fees (which can be very expensive).

Always remember that contractor services require permits.

You’ll save money and time, especially if the contractor service requires many different department approvals before they can complete it.

How Much Time You Have for The Project

Home contractor projects take some time.

Take into consideration of things like permits, coordination with suppliers/subcontractors, etc.

If you want the contractor to finish quickly, you’ll have to pay more.

Don’t expect the contractor to pull off a miracle if he’s rushing through your home renovation project.

If you’re not in a hurry and you’ve got the time to spare, go with an affordable contractor.

What to do If You Are in a Rush

Having too much work and too little time
Running short of time?

If you have very little time, extra tasks are vital get your contractor on board fast enough.

Some people may need extra time.

Others might choose to hire help sooner rather than later, depending on their circumstances.

An example would be someone who needs to complete their renovation project before selling their house and moving to another one because they are relocating for work.

It may be worth it to pay a contractor an additional fee to act quickly in this case.

On the other hand, someone who simply wants to improve their house because they want to stay put probably has more time and can search for contractors at their own pace.

If you are on a very tight schedule, double check the contractor’s license status with the contractor board.

You will avoid delays later on.

Beware, though, because there are many unlicensed contractors out there!

If You Have Plenty of Time:

Assess the contractor selection process timeframe by splitting it up into multiple contractor search phases.

Take your time and choose carefully without having to pick whoever comes through your door first.

The contractor search does not have to be a long, arduous process.

Many homeowners might choose to consider hiring the first contractor they find within their price range.

overlooking other important factors can be detrimental/

However, this can lead to many unfortunate repercussions down the line.

Be careful with contractor selection, you will end up with the best contractor for your needs.

You might get one that is even insurable in case of damages occurring during renovation work!

Simply focus on one phase at a time instead of trying to get everything done all at once.

For example, you could schedule out every week until completion for each stage.

You can get your contractor search done in an organized manner.

Here is a suggested contractor selection process that you can adapt to suit your own needs:

Week 1 – contractor application phase

2 – interviews phase

3 – contract negotiations phase

4 – work begins 

You can also include additional contractor search phases depending on your needs.

Just make sure that you put together a precise schedule so you stay on track instead of letting time slip away from you!

It will help keep contractor application fees to a minimum because you will already know which contractor is the best choice for your project before wasting time with the others.

Experience Level, Reputation, Credentials, Reliability and Certifications

When you are about to undertake a home renovation project, you must do some research first on who you should hire as your contractor for the job.

There are many choices, but if you want the best results, you need to find the best contractor.

The contractor who asks for money upfront before starting work will usually ask for payment in full before the project is finished.

You might end up without recourse to get your money back if their quality is sub-standard or shoddy.

Make sure this doesn’t happen by checking how much they charge per week so you can stop paying them if their work is unsatisfactory after a specific time.

What contractor you choose can make or break your home renovation project, so picking the right contractor is essential!

How long have they been in business?

Three workers examining building plans and talking on portable radio at construction site
How long have they been in business?

Look for an experienced contractor that knows what they are doing rather than just someone with ambition.

Experience means quality craft and good customer service, so check contractor references before choosing one to hire.

Also, compare notes with friends or family members who recently renovated their homes to see if they know any suitable contractor.

Is their track record clean?

The contractor should have a clean track record as this means that they are financially responsible and meet their contractual obligations.

If you find someone involved in any lawsuits, arbitration or bankruptcy proceedings, you might want to avoid working with them because of potential problems down the line.

What contractor license do they hold, and is there a contractor bond and insurance required by your state?

Licensed Approval Authority Permission Conept
What Contractor’s license do they hold?

Every contractor needs to be appropriately licensed if they hold an active contractor’s license, they are likely to be reliable.

If they do not have contractor’s insurance, it might mean that you will be liable in the event of an accident or injury.

What contractor liability insurance does the contractor hold?

This contractor liability insurance is vital because if there is a problem on your property that causes damage to anyone or their belongings, it should cover all costs and damages.

Also, check the contractor’s limit of liability too as some contractors may go beyond what is required, so look for someone with high limits such as $2 million or more.

Are they members of any industry associations?

Memberships such as the “National Association of Homebuilders” or similar establishments where the contractor has specific standards and practices under his belt are promising signs of concern for their work.

Do contractor references check out?

Call contractor references to find out if he was on time, did the project as promised, and is reliable.

Don’t let contractors spin themselves!

Also, make sure you hire someone who performs home renovation services for your area.

What is their quote?

Quoting can be tricky because many contractors might offer very low quotes to get the job, only to charge extra down the line.

It pays to call past customers and compare estimates.

However, don’t base your final decision solely on price, as you should also consider other factors such as experience.

Can Contractor licensing requirements vary between different states?

The contractor you have chosen might not perform the job for your state, so it is essential to find out if they are licensed or registered for your area.

If the contractor doesn’t hold a license, does he have an apprentice license?

Apprenticeship means that the contractor employs someone who works under their supervision.

It could also mean that they can hire other people as subcontractors, which gives them more employees and work experience.

As such, apprenticeships usually offer lower prices and should be checked into before hiring anyone.

Do contractor guarantees exist?

Ensure the contractor offers guarantees on all parts of the project, including materials and labor, as this will provide you with some extra protection.

Up-front pricing or Payments as You Go Along.

One contractor might offer up-front pricing, while another will want to charge you as they go along.

Issuing Payment by Check
Upfront payment

The latter will submit a price quote for each task or job they do on your project.

It can be a big problem if he starts running over what you initially agreed upon with them.

So make sure your contractor is honest about how many days it takes them to complete each part of the home remodel.

Up-front Pricing: Get a Contractor Who is:

REPUTABLE

Ensure that he is reputable and has taken care of any complaints people may have had against them in the past.

You can typically find out whether someone has been in business for a while by looking at their website.

 If their site looks like it was created 20 years ago with Geocities, then chances are they aren’t running a successful company today either.

See whether they offer testimonials from previous clients, and Google some of those references to ensure that friends and family members didn’t do these reviews.

REVIEWED

The best rating, Feedback, Customer Experience Concept. Five silver star on glitter silver background. Five star excellent rating on grey background,
Check out contractor reviews online

What do their customers say about them on review websites or social media?

Look online and check out reviews on sites like Angie’s List, Groupon, Yelp, and Google Plus.

Also, look up the contractor’s specific company name with “reviews” on Google and visit their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

There are often comments from past contractors’ past customers (these can be more valuable than finding reviews).

This way, you’ll get a good idea of how long the contractor has been in business as well as how other people feel about their work.

If he has only has one or two reviews on a social media page, they either haven’t been in business for very long or don’t have many customers.

It’s best to look for those with at least 10+ reviews from happy past customers.

KNOWS THEIR STUFF

A contractor may offer you price quotes that are incredibly cheap because they don’t know what it takes to do the job correctly.

Make sure he has prior experience working on projects like yours; this way, there’s less of a chance that something will go wrong with your home remodel.

REFERRABLE

Check references and ask friends or family members for recommendations.

Call up all the contractors you want to interview and ask them if you can speak to any of their previous customers.

People who were happy with their work – so you can get an unbiased opinion of how reliable and honest they are.

Also, check out the contractor’s website and ask questions about anything that is not clear- this will tell you if they know what they are saying!

People who are happy with a contractor’s work will be more than happy to tell you all about their experience with them on various review websites.

LICENSED

Call your state licensing agency (it should be listed online) and ask if the contractor is licensed in your state of residence.

Also, ask what type of license they hold.

Then, contact the contractor’s references provided by the licensing agency and those given to you by friends, family members, or fellow contractors and ask about their experience.

Are they on time and professional? Were they satisfied with the contractor’s work? Etc.

CONTRACTUAL

Cropped shot of The contractor pointed the pen at the builder to sign the contract to build the house.
Sign a Contract!

Any agreement should be detailed in a step-by-step process, including deadlines, costs, and responsibilities of both parties.

Doing so prevents misunderstandings between contractors and homeowners.

The agreement should detail all aspects of the project, such as materials, lighting fixtures, appliances, etc.

You must also approve all plans for your home before any work begins on your home.

Ensure it meets local codes and ordinances. And whether you like it not: make sure you get a guarantee on their repair/renovation work.

INSURED

A young man in suit in his office showing an insurance policy and pointing with a pen where the policyholder must to sign.
Is your contractor insured?

Ask him to provide their certificates of insurance which include contractor’s liability, worker’s compensation, auto liability, etc.).

Also, ask whether construction equipment used on your home during projects is insured as well.

If not – find another! Get this in writing also.

Afterwards – if disaster strikes – you will have documented proof of the contractor’s insurance coverage, so there are no misunderstandings.

Payments as They Go Along

Keep track of the time and money that goes into each day.

If there are times when you need unique materials that can be costly.

It’s advisable to make sure that the contractor has some of the investment; otherwise, they might hold back on completing the job until they receive an advance payment.

A contractor who wants payment as they go along may also act too slowly in getting through jobs.

If this is so, you should think about engaging another one.

if your schedule becomes impeded because of slow progress caused by late payments or non-payments.

Extra Tip:

A contractor should not regularly asks for payment before work is completed.

They may not have a good reason for doing so.

The contractor may want to use a cash flow method, but they should also explain better.

If you feel that this will be the case, it might be beneficial to find someone else instead.

Drawbacks

There are several drawbacks of hiring a contractor who wants payment as they go along.

How to Avoid Unreliability

Angry client talking on phone with technical support.
Avoid UNRELIABILITY!

You can always use this information if anything goes wrong or if they try to hold back payment.

A contractor working on too many projects will likely need to delay your project.

They need to meet deadlines for other jobs they may have.

This way, you won’t have any delays because there should be some flexibility.

Since unforeseen problems can occur while working on a home renovation or refurbishment project.

Interview at least three contractors

There are many questions that you should address before hiring a contractor.

There are also several red flags to avoid.

If you want to find the best contractor for your home project, it is essential to create a detailed checklist.

Creating an exhaustive interview checklist will help you save time.

The following list of questions should act as guidelines.

Interview
Interview several contractors before making a decision

What kind of education or training does the contractor have?

For example, if you’re hiring an electrician contractor for wiring your new addition, then you should find out whether they have undergone special training beyond high school.

Also, understand the contractor’s experience level and how it relates to the current project.

For example, one specializing in roofing work may not be as experienced with wallpaper installation;

therefore, they might make costly mistakes along the way.

Does the contractor offer to write estimates and contracts?

With construction projects like remodeling a bathroom or building an addition onto your house, where costs can sometimes skyrocket quickly,

you will want to know what type of contract he offers.

Also, make sure that he or she issues written estimates along with written contracts;

It’s simply not fair to ask homeowners to sign a contract if they only have an oral estimate to go on.

What kind of liability insurance does the contractor carry?

If something were to go wrong during the construction project,

you don’t want your contractor who was just working next door slipping out the back door because there is no liability insurance in place.

Many states require contractors to carry this type of insurance as proof that they are covered if someone gets injured while they’re on your property installing windows, for example.

Make sure you understand any potential costs involved if someone got hurt and could not work for several weeks or months.

Does the contractor provide written warranties on all work?

Find out what sort of warranty your contractor offers on materials used during the construction process,

how long those warranties last and whether they’re transferable should you decide to sell your house.

Also, ask who is responsible for servicing any problems that might arise after the warranty expires and whether or not any related service call fees will apply.

Does your contractor have a business office where they can meet with homeowners in person?

Business office: Laptop and business documents on the table at office
Where is their office located?

If so, you might ask for references from previous clients who used this contractor’s office location.

Also, find out where this contractor’s primary office is located.

If they’re too far away, your contractor might end up not getting back to you with answers quickly enough.

It could harm your relationship down the road.

How do technicians who will be onsite during the construction process get paid?

Some experts recommend that you hire a contractor as opposed to a subcontractor.

In other words, it may be cheaper and more cost-effective to have one do all of the project work himself.

He can work alongside his team rather than hiring different contractors for the various parts of the home improvement plan.

Does your area require any local licensing or permits?

The contractor should tell you what type of county or city licenses must be obtained for the project.

Close-up Of A Person's Hand Stamping With Approved Stamp On Text Approved Document At Desk, Contract Form Paper
Are there any Permits required?

Licensing requirements vary from region to region, so make sure you determine if licenses must be available before hiring.

For example, in some areas, contractors need to be registered and hold a contractor’s license for certain types of projects.

Such as installing gutters and downspouts.

What happens if your contractor decides to end the relationship?

You can’t terminate some unique relationships without either party incurring a penalty.

For example, you should check about any penalties involved if they end the relationship before work is completed.

Or revise the contract significantly enough during the construction process to impact project costs and completion dates.

What are your contractor’s most popular brands of windows, doors, siding and roofing materials?

It might seem like a strange question, but experts say that some contractors have brand names.

They prefer to work within their cases because this contractor is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with alternative product lines.

If there’s a specific type of energy-efficient window, door, siding or roofing material you want to be used during your home improvement project, be sure to go over all options.

Ask questions about each one before making any final decisions about what to use during the construction.

How will you communicate updates about your home improvement project?

Be sure to ask about the contractor’s preferred method of communication.

Talking about projects: Businesspeople having a casual meeting in the office.
Communication is important

Does he prefer to use emails, text messages, or telephones to pass along updates about your home improvement project?

Find out whether you can agree on a better way to communicate before beginning work on your project.

Ask what system works best for both contractors and clients.

What’s included in the contractor’s overall price?

Contractors usually have items that are considered standard parts of their home improvement packages.

There could be additional fees involved in your project being more complex than usual or requiring a higher degree of customization during construction.

Also, find out whether any promotions or reduced rates will apply before accepting any final cost estimates because this may result in an even lower overall price for your home improvement project.

Hire Your Contractor

You are hired! Two beautiful women shaking hands with smile while sitting at the office table with their coworkers
Hire Your Contractor

Now that your checklist is list is ready, you can comfortably hire.

What to do before work begins:

Your contractor will appreciate it, and so will your house!

When work is complete, you may need to stay out of the space for a few hours (or days) and let workers clean up after themselves.

If you have pets or children in your home, then this might be an issue.

It’s best to discuss with your contractor how long this should take before they leave.

Then enjoy being back in your beautiful new space!

Conclusion:

I hope you found this list helpful.

It is just a sample of what to ask, but it covers the basics and should help steer your decision in the right direction.

Let our team know if you want more help narrowing down your options or suggestions.

We’re happy to consult with you about any type of project – big or small!

What would other thoughts make your checklist even better?

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