Do you have a lot of home improvements that you want to have completed? Do you find yourself looking at all of them and scratching your head as you wonder how you’re going to find the right person to handle all of this ? Rest assured, you’re not the only person that feels this way. In fact, a lot of people feel sort of lost when it comes to hiring a contractor. If you’ve never done it before, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, reading through this article can help you with some of the basics. Here, you can learn what you need to do to hire a competent contractor. You’ll also learn the difference between professional contractors and a local handyman.
How to Hire a Contractor
There are some important aspects of hiring a contractor, even if the job you need them for is relatively small. if you follow the points listed below, it can make the task of finding the right contractor seem a lot easier. It also takes some stress out of the process, largely because it gives you some sound advice about hiring someone who might be doing work on your house.
- Never Hire Based Only on Price
It can be tempting to hire someone simply because they charge a lot less than everybody else you’ve talked to. However, this can also get you into a lot of trouble. You have to stop and ask yourself why one person is able to charge so much less than everyone else. Is it because they don’t have any experience or there are issues with their workmanship? Is it because they use inferior materials that aren’t as high quality? These are important things to ask. Make sure you pay a fair price but don’t base your decision solely on the amount of money someone quotes you.
- Do Research
When hiring a contractor, you have to do your research no matter how straightforward the job in question might be. You need to know that these people are trustworthy and that they know how to do the job they’re being hired for. The last thing you want to do is unknowingly hire someone that is nothing more than a con artist. How are you going to know that if you don’t do your homework and find out what their track record is? This takes a little time, and you have to put forth some effort to do it, but it’s simply lazy not to do it. It can also get you in a lot of hot water that can take a long time and a lot of money to correct.
- Meet in Person
You can talk to someone on the phone all day long, but it’s often easier to get down to the nuts and bolts of business when you meet in person. It’s also easier to get a more accurate impression of that individual’s ability to do the job. People can say all the right things on the phone, but when you meet them in person, it’s usually easier to tell if it’s really someone you want to work with or not.
- Get References
Never be afraid to ask for references. In fact, if the contractor refuses to give you references or gives you a bunch of names and contact information that gets you nowhere, don’t hire them. Anybody that considers themselves a professional and does a good job will be more than happy to provide you with references. If they balk at this idea, there’s a reason, and you don’t want to find out what it is.
- Follow Your Instincts
No one likes to consider themselves a judgmental person, but almost everyone gets a gut instinct about people when they first meet them. There’s a difference between being judgemental and listening to your gut instinct. This is why it’s so important to meet a potential contractor in person. If you learn to listen to your instincts, it can save you a lot of trouble. If there’s something bothering you about a particular person, there’s probably a reason why. Even if everything else seems to check out, refrain from hiring someone if there’s something in the back of your mind that’s troubling you and you just can’t shake it.
Handyman vs. a Professional Contractor
Many people do various home repairs on the side, in addition to their normal day job, if you will. These people typically consider themselves more of a handyman than a professional contractor. Remember, a professional contractor is someone who does certain types of renovation or construction for a living. It’s how they make their primary source of income. The handyman, on the other hand, is usually someone that does this type of work as a side job. In addition, they usually do a multitude of different types of jobs as opposed to specializing in just one or two. If you feel confused about whether you need to hire a handyman or a professional contractor, consider some of these questions that are discussed below.
- Are multiple subcontractors needed?
Depending on the size of the job that you need to have completed, it may not be enough to hire one professional contractor. If you’re having a house built or one that’s being completely gutted and renovated, you probably need a lot of subcontractors in addition to one or two main individuals that are running the show, so to speak. In this case, it might be appropriate to hire a professional contractor for the more in-depth work and then hire a handyman or two for some of the other jobs that are left.
- Are licenses required?
Many major construction projects require you to have permits and licenses in order for certain things to be completed. Think about it this way. Do you really want to hire a handyman who isn’t licensed to work on your electricity or your plumbing? You’re taking a real gamble if you do something like that. You have no way of proving that they’re capable of doing the work. If it’s something that requires a license, it’s better left in the hands of a professional. On the other hand, if you need a fence built or you want your house repainted, there’s certainly nothing wrong with hiring a handyman if you can find one that’s reputable and knows how to do the job. Be sure to ask for references from them as well.
- What is the size of the job?
It’s best to stick with a professional contractor if you’re hiring someone to do a major job. You wouldn’t want someone to operate on you if you needed brain surgery and they were fresh out of medical school. You would want someone with experience. It’s a similar situation with large, complex projects. If the job you need to have completed is relatively small and more straightforward, a handyman might be a perfect fit.
These are all things that you have to consider when you decide to hire someone to work on your property. It sounds like a lot, and it can be overwhelming, but don’t let it scare you away from taking action. If something needs to be done or corrected, it’s really best to deal with it right away as opposed to letting it get worse over time.
Have you ever wondered exactly what a contractor does? Maybe you thought about having some work done at your own house, but you never really needed a contractor before, and you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Like most things, the idea of hiring a contractor sounds more difficult than it really is. If you’re wondering whether or not you need to hire one, consider reading on to find out exactly what a contractor can do, not to mention how you can get an estimate that’s accurate.
What Jobs Can a Contractor Do?
When it really comes right down to it, a general contractor can do just about anything. There are a lot of home improvement projects that people can do themselves, but sometimes the project is just too big to be a do-it-yourself project. Furthermore, there are plenty of people in the world who either do not possess the skill and knowledge to do the job correctly or simply don’t have the time. In some cases, they may not be interested in doing it because it’s usually easier to hire someone else. Think about all the different things a contractor can do when it comes to your home.
- Home Addition
If you want to add an addition to your home, it’s imperative that you hire a good general contractor – unless you know a lot about construction, plumbing, and electricity. This is not an easy project unless you have extensive experience in those areas. The very idea of adding an addition to your home can be exhilarating, making all kinds of new possibilities a reality. With that being said, you want to make sure that it’s being done right, which is why you need a general contractor.
- Kitchen Remodel
Some people decide to remodel their kitchen on their own and others wouldn’t even think to try. In the end, it really comes down to how much remodeling you actually want to do. There’s a big difference between painting your kitchen and giving it some much-needed updates as opposed to gutting it so you can start from scratch. This is especially true if you live in an older home that has outdated electrical outlets and appliances.
- Bathroom Remodel
Aside from the kitchen, the bathroom is probably the room that gets remodeled most frequently. For some people, it’s enough to apply a fresh coat of paint and add some new decorations but for others, an entire bathroom remodel is necessary. One of the reasons it’s so important to hire a professional contractor in this instance is that you’re dealing with both electricity and a lot of plumbing. If you’re replacing showers and tubs in a complete remodel, you want someone that knows what they’re doing so the job is done correctly the first time.
- Basement Remodel
Remodeling your basement is a great way to add some extra room to your house. You can create another bedroom, turn it into a recreational room where the whole family can get together, make it a screening room where you can watch movies, or even turn it into a craft room. The list is really endless. However, you need a professional contractor that knows how to get that room from the state that it’s currently into what you want it to be.
- Add a Sun Porch
Having a sun porch adds value to your house, and it’s a great place to sit and have coffee in the morning or relax in the evening. However, the act of adding the sun porch is not as easy as it might sound. Remember, you’re essentially building another room to your house, especially if you plan on closing it in. Therefore, the best way to ensure that the work is done right is to hire a contractor.
- Build a Garage
Some people buy one of those prefabricated carports and call it good. Others prefer a more permanent solution, and they want a full-fledged garage. You have two different options here. You can have a garage that is attached to your house as an addition, or you can have a detached garage built. Many people choose to build a rather large detached garage that is also large enough to be used as a workshop. Again, you’re talking about building something and installing electricity and water. You might even be installing plumbing, provided you have a sink or a restroom in there. Therefore, it’s important to contact a reputable general contractor who will know how to get it done right.
- Get a Good Estimate
Getting an estimate that’s accurate is one of the most important things you can do. Obviously, every contractor is not going to charge the exact same price. You can expect some variation, but it shouldn’t be a great deal. One of the worst things you can do is get a single estimate and assume that’s the going rate for everyone. It’s equally as bad to take the contractor’s estimate at face value without knowing anything about how much you really should be paying.
- Get at Least Three Bids
You already know that you only want to deal with reputable people that can get the job done and do it right. You probably also know that you shouldn’t base your decision on how much money they’re charging you, at least not exclusively. With that being said, you need to get a minimum of three bids from different reputable contractors. Compare those bids and don’t be afraid to ask questions about differences in the amount of money they’re charging you. This gives you the opportunity to make an educated decision about hiring the best contractor that will give you the best deal for your money instead of merely hoping for the best.
- Know General Supply Costs
It would be nice to think that everyone would turn in an estimate that is completely accurate and honest, but that isn’t how the real world typically works. Unfortunately, some contractors have a habit of inflating their supply costs so they can charge you more money. It seems as though these individuals don’t expect customers to find out how much the supplies actually cost in first place. One of the biggest ways that you can make sure that you’re not being duped is to find out how much all of the supplies that are being used on your project cost. Take those costs and compare them with those listed on the estimates. That way, you know if someone is being honest with you.
Now that you know some of the different projects you might hire a contractor for, you also know how to get an estimate and make sure that you’re not being taken for a ride when you hire someone. It’s important not to become overly focused on the cost so that you ignore everything else, but it’s also important to know that the people you’re considering hiring are being honest with you. If they’re not being honest on their estimate, there are probably bigger problems that haven’t yet manifested, as they clearly have a problem being straight with their clients. When you know what to look for, it gives you the chance to be in control of the situation as opposed to allowing it be the other way around.
If you’ve been wanting to have your home remodeled for quite some time, you might not be sure exactly how much you should be paying for your particular project. If you have found yourself putting the entire project off because it seems easier than dealing with all of the questions, you’re not the only person that’s ever done that. However, there is a problem with this type of thinking. Your home is never going to get remodeled unless you take action.
Depending on how badly it needs that remodeling project to be finished, you could be living in a house that you’re not satisfied with until you take those first steps. If cost is something that you’re worried about, it’s important to do some homework, so you know more about what you’re likely to be asked to spend. It also gives you a chance to prepare for the questions that most contractors are likely to ask you when you contact them.
Average Cost of a Home Remodeling Project
The most important thing to remember about the average cost of remodeling a home is that there really isn’t anything average about it. Every project is different, largely depending on several factors. Some of it depends on the company you hire, sometimes the cost is dependent on the area in which you live. It’s almost always a given that the amount of money you need to spend will vary directly in proportion to the size and complexity of the project at hand. Consider the points listed below.
- Depends on type and size
Some remodeling projects are relatively small and easy to handle. Therefore, they don’t take as much time to complete. Obviously, these jobs are not going to cost as much as a job that is extremely large or complex. A complete remodel will cost you a lot more than simply updating a single room. Consider the following example. Your budget will be a lot smaller if you’re remodeling a bathroom by bringing in a new tub and having a new coat of paint applied. Conversely, you can automatically expect to pay a lot more if you have the entire house completely remodeled from top to bottom.
- Will you need new appliances?
If you have been living in your house for a while, some of your appliances might be approaching the end of their service life. Most people make the decision to go ahead and get all new appliances when they do a major remodel. However, it’s important to remember that this can dramatically increase the budget required to complete the project. Appliances are not cheap. Even a simple single door refrigerator can easily cost upwards of $800 these days. If you want one of the larger refrigerators with dual doors and a specialized finish, you can easily spend several thousand dollars without even trying. The same premise goes for practically every other appliance in your house.
- Are you hiring a construction manager?
Hiring a construction manager can mean that you spend a lot more money, but it can also make the job go a lot more smoothly. This person’s sole job is to oversee everything that’s going on. They’re in charge of dealing with the many contractors that are being brought in to do different jobs. If your house is being completely remodeled, you’ve got someone that’s tearing out some of the old stuff while other people are putting in new items. You have people that are working on electricity and others who are working on plumbing. A construction manager coordinates all of these individuals to ensure that nothing is overlooked, and everything is done correctly. It means the project itself costs you more money, but it could save you a great deal of money down the road because it can prevent mistakes from being made that could turn the house into a real money pit.
Questions a General Contractor Will Ask
Sometimes customers get so caught up in the many questions they need to ask contractors that they get tripped up when the contractor starts asking them questions. It’s imperative that there be good communication on both sides. There are some questions you can expect most contractors to ask you. In fact, you should probably be worried if they don’t ask you questions. Below is a sampling of some of the most basic questions that contractors should be asking. Don’t be surprised if they ask these and several more.
- What’s Your Budget?
Customers are always concerned with asking contractors how much they’re going to charge. That’s understandable. They don’t want to get in a situation where they’re being charged far more than they can afford. Rest assured, your contractor will be asking you about your budget. They want to get paid, and they don’t want to agree to do a job that is a far cry from the budget you set forth. It only makes sense that they would ask you how much money you have to spend on a project. The idea is for the two of you to sit down and come together on something that is both within your budget and within reason when it comes to the things you want to have completed.
- What’s Your Timeframe
Contractors sometimes get a bad reputation for taking far too long to complete a project. As such, consumers usually ask them how long it’s going to take them to finish a project. By the same token, most contractors want to know the time frame that a consumer has in mind. This can throw a lot of customers for a loop because they honestly don’t know how long it should take to complete a particular project. They usually end up asking the contractor how long it usually takes to do something. With that being said, it’s important that this conversation takes place. Again, the idea is to come to a mutual understanding. Your contractor should be able to provide you with a realistic amount of time concerning the project. You can then decide if that works well for you and the two of you can come to some type of agreement ahead of time, long before any actual work ever takes place.
- Is This a Remodel, Retrofit or New Construction?
Obviously, this is an important one. There’s a big difference between constructing a brand new house and retrofitting an existing house in order to give it some important updates. In addition, the term remodel can mean a lot of different things in and of itself. There are certain remodels that can be done in a single day and others that take several months. It really depends on how much of a remodel you want to have done. These are all things that you and your contractor need to work out ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page.
When it’s all said and done, everything comes down to good communication. If you and your contractor are not communicating well or often, there is potential for things to go wrong. When you’re both communicating, there are fewer surprises, and everyone has a better idea of what to expect. This works much better for everyone involved throughout the entire project.
Imagine that you’ve been planning some important home renovations for quite some time and the day has finally come for you to hire a contractor. By this time, you should have already done your homework and then some, but what happens if you’re still not quite sure how to handle certain issues with your contractor? There are some questions that you need to ask them, so you know what to expect while they’re doing the job. By the same token, there are also some troubling warning signs that you need to constantly be on the lookout for. If you see any of those things happen, it’s time to take action right away. Keep reading to find out how to handle these types of situations.
What You Need to Ask Your Contractor
It seems like there are two types of people in the world when it comes to hiring contractors. One type wants to know every little detail, even to the point of taking every step with the contractor and staring intently at the job they’re doing, the entire time they’re there. It’s almost as if they would rather do the job themselves and have the contractor stand behind them telling them if they’re making a major mistake. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that hire just about anybody without asking any questions at all. Obviously, neither extreme is a good idea. Contractors really don’t want you looking over their shoulder telling them how to do their job. By contrast, it is your house, and it’s not okay to let them run right over the top of you. You do have the right to ask questions, and some of the most important ones are listed below.
It’s a simple as this: there should be no professional contractor doing major work on your house who does not carry insurance. If they tell you otherwise, it’s time to find a new contractor right away. The last thing you want is to have someone working in your house that isn’t insured. If they get injured while they’re there, you can bet they’re going to want someone else to pay for their medical bills. Without insurance, it’s likely going to fall on you because they were on your property when it happened.
There isn’t a contractor alive that’s a true professional if they don’t provide you with plenty of references. When working as a contractor, most work comes by word of mouth. If they don’t want to provide you with references, it’s because they’ve done something to upset a lot of people along the way. In fact, it’s really best if you have a standing rule that they either provide references or they’re automatically disqualified from consideration. You can always find another contractor and chances are, it will be a lot easier than trying to fix whatever someone else could potentially mess up.
- Payment Schedule
Contractors don’t work cheaply. It’s important to work out the details concerning how you’re going to pay them. Just like everyone else, contractors like to know that they’ll be getting regular payments and that it’s going to come on a certain day. Therefore, it’s important to discuss when they will be paid and whether that payment will be in full or if you intend to set up payments throughout the job. Make sure there is an agreement in writing before they do any work.
- Daily Work Schedule
Nothing is more frustrating than hiring a contractor, having them show up for their first day of work and leave by noon, only to be missing in action for the next two weeks. Just as they like to have some kind of reassurance that you’re going to pay them a certain amount of money by a certain time, you’re entitled to know when they’re going to show up and how long it’s going to take.
- Who Will Acquire the Permits?
Depending on where you live, certain permits are likely to be required, especially if there’s any additional building going on. It’s important to know ahead of time whether you need to get those permits before you sign any kind of contract with the person you hire or if they will do that as part of their job. It really depends on the contractor in question, so it’s something that you need to know ahead of time.
- Warning Signs
Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t act like a professional – even when they try to pass themselves off as one. All you need to do is listen to the evening news in order to understand how many so-called contractors there are who are not qualified to do any job at all. Many just take your money, and often, you never see them again after they get it. Hiring a contractor is just like hiring anyone else. It’s imperative that you know that you can trust them before you allow them into your home, on your property, or start paying them any money. Check out some of the warning signs listed below and if you experience any of these issues firsthand, refrain from giving them any money whatsoever. It might even be appropriate to contact the local authorities, depending on the situation.
- Only accepts cash
This one can be difficult because there are some contractors out there that do odd jobs, don’t have any employees, and have been burned more than a few times by people writing bad checks. Some of these individuals are no longer willing to accept checks in any capacity, and if you look at it from their point of view, it’s easy to understand why they feel the way they do.Additionally, some contractors aren’t as apt to use the new credit card apps for smartphones so that might not be an option for everyone. What does all this mean? It means that there are some reputable contractors that ask for cash, so you must use your instincts in order to decide whether or not you want to go ahead and hire them if this is the case. It can be a problem because many contractors that won’t accept any form of payment other than cash are doing that because they’re not reputable and have no intention of doing the job in the first place.
- Offers an exceptionally long guarantee
Obviously, you want a decent guarantee on the work that is being performed. However, certain jobs only last for so long. If your contractor is providing you with a guarantee on the work that is two or three times as long as basically everyone else in the industry, it’s time to be suspicious. Chances are, they’re inflating the quality of their workmanship. If they’re not being honest about that, you have to start asking yourself how many other things they’re being less than truthful about.
- Asks for all money up front
This is something that should send warning bells running through your mind right away. A fair number of contractors ask for a deposit before they begin any work, largely because they’ve done work for people in the past without being paid a single dime. However, if they start asking you for all of the money before they do any work, the worst thing you can do is pay them. You can almost bet that once they get that money, you will never see them or your money again.
- Asks for a lien on your property
This should just be a no-brainer. You’ve worked hard for your property, and you shouldn’t have to give it up just because you hire someone to do some work. If you have a contractor that’s asking you right off the bat to put a lien on your property until the work is completely paid for, it’s time to move on and find someone else. It’s also a good idea to contact authorities to turn that person in because they’re probably trying to get your property so they can sell it for themselves.
Hiring a contractor doesn’t have to be difficult. However, you should always do your homework. Know what to ask them and don’t be shy about doing it. By the same token, take your time when it comes to investigating potential contractors so that you don’t end up getting burned in the process.
Have you ever thought about the steps you should take if you plan on hiring a general contractor? General contractors are used for all kinds of things, ranging from completing major outdoor jobs, to minor cleanup of your property, to small jobs inside your house. While it’s typically beneficial from a time-management standpoint to hire a contractor for the job, there are some things that need to be taken into consideration first. You definitely will want to consider the benefits of hiring a professional versus doing it yourself. And if you do hire out, you’ll want to think about what you need to do to prepare the area before a contractor comes in to do any work.
Prepare for the Job to Start
Most contractors prefer you get the area prepared before they do any work. After all, their job is involved in doing whatever it is that you hired them to do, not in cleaning up the place and getting it ready so they can do their work. Typically, the best way to make sure that they get the work done on time without an increase in your estimate is to make sure that you take care of the four points listed below, preferably long before the contractor gets there.
- Clear the area
It’s not possible for someone to do their job properly if there’s clutter in the area and they can barely get to the space where they need to work. Therefore, it’s necessary that you clear the area of any debris so that your contractor can have the access they need. Whether the debris in question is too large to handle alone or relatively easy to deal with, it still has to be cleared away before any work can be done.
- Keep pets away
Contractors do not enjoy going to someone’s home and having pets bark at them, trying to bite them, or jumping on them. Granted, you might not always be able to prevent your dogs from barking at someone, especially when it’s someone they are not familiar with. With that being said, keep your dog away from your contractors so that there’s no chance of anyone being bitten or knocked down.This isn’t just for the protection of the contractors, either. It’s also for the protection of both you and your dog. The last thing you want is your dog biting someone. If they do, it could mean that your dog is taken away from you, or worse. It’s better for everyone involved if you keep your pets and the contractors separated so that the two don’t come into contact with one another.
- Have a clear path to restrooms
This is something that most homeowners don’t often think about, at least not at first. If a contractor is doing a job at your home that requires them to be there for several hours, days, or weeks, it might be necessary to allow them access to at least one restroom in your home. If that is the case, make sure that you let them know which room the correct room is ahead of time and be sure that they have access to that room throughout the entire time that they are there. Try to keep clutter out of the way so that they can get where they need to go quickly and easily and make sure that there is access from your yard to the room in question.
- BONUS: offer refreshments
Many contractors take a lunch break and they bring their own lunch and water. However, nothing is stopping you from offering them something to eat or drink, especially when the weather is terribly hot, and they’ve been out there all day. This is common courtesy and it also goes a long way towards developing a good relationship with your contractor, which often translates into better satisfaction on your part when the job is finished.
Hiring a Professional Contractor vs. DIY
This can be a tricky question because a lot of people have the idea that they would rather just do something themselves as opposed to hiring a professional. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s a rather large movement these days that encourages a lot of people to learn how to do home renovations on their own. With that being said, doing it yourself is really not something everyone should attempt.
There are a few things that you need to have in your corner if you’re going to do this type of work on your own. You either need to have enough knowledge to accomplish the task or you need to have a way to get that knowledge. You also need to have enough time to complete it without being rushed or being forced to cut corners. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, so to speak, so it’s important to be honest with yourself here. If it’s a job that you really want to do on your own and you think you can, go for it but make sure you consider some of the potential issues listed below.
- Money vs. Time
Sometimes people decide not to hire a professional contractor because they’re trying to save money. This might sound like a good idea at first but stop and think about how much more time it will likely take you to get the job done. There are several reasons why you’re not going to be able to do it as quickly as a professional. First and foremost, you probably don’t have the skill level or the knowledge. In addition, it’s highly unlikely that you can spend 10 or 12 hours a day working on the project because you have a job of your own. That means it’s going to take a lot longer for you to get it done. Is it worth it just to save that money or would you rather spend a little more and get your home back in order faster?
- Needed Skills
This subject has already been touched on quite a bit, so the only thing that’s really left to say about this is that people often overestimate their abilities. Learning new things is great and if you want to try your hand at something you’ve never done before, nothing should stop you. However, it’s important to remember that this is your home. This is the place you and your family come to unwind. It’s important to do an honest inventory of your skills so that you don’t end up getting in over your head.
As long as you keep these things in mind, you can prepare your home for a contractor with relative ease, not to mention making them feel just a little more at home while they’re working. Who knows, you might even decide to do the job yourself. If that’s your decision, just make sure that you know what you’re getting into before you start tearing things up.