You don’t often buy a car without testing out a few different models. Why would you do anything different when contemplating a major overhaul to your home, or even a room or two.
It does not matter if you’re doing an overhaul of electric, plumbing or adding a new porch to the exterior of your home, when it comes to changing things up in the most important investment of your life, you need to know you’re hiring the right kind of professional(s) to do the job.
The Rule of Three
Get at least three different proposals and estimates, no matter the type of work. Three formal estimates will show you the highest, the lowest, and a “moderator” price—the one that most closely matches one of the other two. Chances are, the one that stands out as the over or under price is the one to avoid, either due to over-inflated pricing or inexperience, either or which could result in poor quality or drawn out work.
Meet the Manager
Before hiring any contracting company, meet personally with the boss, the general contractor; he/she will be the one managing the entire project—the buck truly does stop with them. Get all details in writing; don’t leave it to a verbal agreement. Get drawings; get quotes, down the the brick or flooring strip. And ask how the contract will be affected if the job goes over the projected amount—chances are, there will be unexpected things that crop up once the work has started: unanticipated pipes buried in walls; flooring that is uneven; rooms that are not quite square.
Pick their brain on how they will approach your particular project in relation to similar projects they’ve completed. Don’t neglect taking into account the contractor’s personal dress, personality or demeanor upon entering your home. Oh, and the type of vehicle they drive is another factor to consider. Do they drive a wreck, or is the car/truck/van in good condition, and does it publicize the business?
Get it in Writing
Get a firm timetable, within 5 to 7 days, of when the project will be completed. Confirm start and end times for each day’s work, and ask how workers will clean up after themselves after each day’s work. Ask for several (3 to 5) references who will agree to speaking with you about their satisfaction level with the contractor before starting your work. Any contractor worth their price will agree to this immediately. Ask to see credentials and ensure the contractor will be securing all necessary contracts, both local and/or county. Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no grievances filed with the contractor.
Read the contract. Ask questions about any details you do not clearly understand. And if you have special requirements, such as pets that need to be watched so they don’t escape during the remodeling process, or a child or older adult with special needs, make sure this is part of the up-front discussion before signing the dotted line.