Is your family growing while your house seems to be shrinking? Or, have you decided the most economical way to get a larger home with the features you want means you need to put on an addition? Either way if your project is just too big to take on yourself, you’ll need to find a a reliable contractor.
We’ve all heard horror stories about home contractors who disappear or home additions gone really badly, so finding the right contractor is important. In reality, most contractors do try to do a good job and be reliable but sometimes they can get overextended financially or just take on a job that’s too big for them. Here’s some suggestions about how you can find a reliable contractor for your home renovation.
Start by creating a list of potential contractors
- Talk to friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives about their experiences with contractors and find out anyone they might recommend. If you’re looking to do a major addition, don’t bother with contractors who have replaced some windows or upgraded a bathroom. You want to find contractors who have done jobs of the same size as yours.
- Check at the local building centers where contractors buy their materials. They may have a list of contractors they are willing to recommend or point you to some contractors who do the kind of work you’re looking to have done.
- Another good source of reliable contractors is local real estate agents. They often know reputable builders in the area and could be looking to build some good will with potential clients.
Narrow your list by talking to the contractors and asking questions
- This doesn’t need to be a detailed or drawn out conversation at this time. One of the important things you need to find out is if your personalities mesh. During an addition, there will be lots of conversations and inevitably some stress and discussions. You want to feel comfortable with the person you will be hiring and working with.
- Ask how long they have been in business and if they have ever done a job similar to yours before, as well as how that job went. You also want to know if they belong to any professional builders associations, carry workman’s comp and personal liability insurance to cover sub trades working on your property.
- Many states and counties require home contractors to be licensed, if your state is one of these find out if the contractor is licensed to do a major addition such as the one you’re planning.
- Get the names of some clients for whom they have done a similar job and let them know you will be contacting these people to get their feed back and impressions of both the contractor and the work. Don’t just say you are gong to do this, actually do it. Even better, if you can arrange it, actually go and see the finished job and talk to the homeowner about how the contractor and his crew were to work with. Did they show up when they said they would and if they did everything they said they would prior to the job. It’s also important to find out how any disputes or misunderstandings were settled.
Once you’ve had your conversations you can decide which three or four contractors you’d feel most comfortable working with and ask them to provide a written estimate and bid for your job.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted at [email protected].