While many repairs can be done by a handy homeowner, there are some jobs, such as putting on a roof or installing siding, that require a professional contractor. But finding an expert who will get the work done on time, on budget and in a professional and friendly manner can sometimes feel daunting. Here are my tips to help you find the best person for your next job.
Get references. You want to find someone who is local to the area and has a good reputation. Ask your contractor for the names and phone numbers of the last several jobs he or she completed so you can contact the homeowners and discuss their experiences. Ask questions about the contractor's professionalism and communication skills as well as the end-to-end process.
Make sure they have the right qualifications. A general contractor might be able to do anything, but that doesn't mean they do it all particularly well. Find someone who has extensive experience in the job you want done, not someone who just "does that too". Also make sure that they are both licensed and insured to do the work that you require.
Get into the nitty gritty. A good contractor will give you a step-by-step breakdown of the job they are quoting on. Remember that with home remodeling, you're paying for both a product and a service, so ask about the materials they are using and do some research on your own. Extra time may be required for ordering materials, especially if they are more difficult to come by, so ask questions about the timeline and expected completion date.
You get what you pay for. You have no idea how many times I get calls to replace a roof with a 30 year warranty after only 10 years because of installation error, or because the homeowner skipped a vital step in order to save some money. Warranties on products are only as good as the installation and surrounding environment, and many manufacturers won't honor a warranty if those factors aren't up to scratch. Make sure your contractor explains this to you.
Expert contractors love working with people who are well informed, have done their research and aren't afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to speak up, because good communication is key to ensuring that your job is done right and to your specifications.