Like many young families in our area, my husband and I bought a house that needed some work a few years ago. Ok, saying that is needed some work may be an understatement. This house was in such bad share when we purchased it, I feel through a hole in the floor when painting our hallway when we first purchased it. I think watching countless hours of HGTV made us feel like we could tackle any home improvement project. We can’t. I can paint and do minor repairs but it became apparent very quickly that we needed some professionals to come in and help. The projects seemed to be endless! After working with some great (and some not-so-great) contractors we finally know who to hire within minutes, but it took quite a bit of trial and error to figure this out.
Hiring a contractor isn’t for everyone, but for us it made the most sense. A contractor will oversee that entire project to make sure everything goes as planned. Having a contractor on the job should save you a lot of time and heartache. We just had our ancient bathroom redone, we hired a contractor so that we would not need to find a plumber, electrician, painter, handyman and demo crew- the contractor took care of all of this. It was a tiny bit more expensive but saved us a considerable about of time! After working with quite a few contractors here are my do’s and don’ts to hiring an awesome contractor for your project:
DO check out Yelp! This can be a great starting point. Yelp can locate the contractors that are closest to you and give you a good starting point. Just a word of caution- anyone can write a Yelp review. I know a few small companies that have all stellar reviews from friends and family, take the reviews with a grain of salt!
DO ask your friends and family. When we started our bathroom project we asked around to see if anyone had a great recommendation. A few friends clued us in on contractors that they didn’t recommend, which was helpful and saved us some time. If you are using a contractor that completed a job for a friend or family member, ask if you can stop by to check out the quality of the work.
DO talk to your real estate agent. If you just bought your house your real estate agent most likely has a list of contractors that they recommend.
DO check to make sure the contactor is licensed and insured. This one may seem silly but think of it this way, if one of the workers gets injured on the job you may be held liable if the contractor isn’t carrying insurance for his or her crew. This will vary by situation, but I tend to err on the side of caution.
DON’T have unrealistic expectations. We have a tiny bathroom, if I had expected a gigantic bathtub with jets I would have been very disappointed when I saw the final product. Look at your project and think about what is reasonable.
DON’T be shy about asking questions! I always ask about the estimated cost and time it will take to complete the project. I also always ask what happens if things don’t go according to schedule, if the crew is slow or has a hard time installing something will you be charged for extra hours of labor?
DON’T forget to follow your instincts. I think as women we are trained to be “nice” to everyone. If there is a contractor who just isn’t seeing your vision or seems creepy, you may want to pass. Any contractor that addresses my husband but asks as though I am not in the room immediately loses our business.