A home remodeling project shouldn’t be taken lightly – it’s typically a substantial financial investment. And it takes a little legwork to find a contractor who can handle the job from start to finish. With the right professional, you can be certain of timely delivery, quality craftsmanship, and spending within your budget. In this post, we’ll discuss 5 must-haves when picking your home remodeling contractor.
1. Must Have a Contractors License
In any home remodeling project, the issue of licensing comes up. Is the contractor licensed or just a guy working out of his truck, without a license? And we’re not talking about a business license. Anyone can get one of those.
What you want to see is a general contractors license, issued by the state, only after the person has taken classes and passed rigorous testing to prove they understand building codes and building methodologies. The contractor must be able to show you their state license and a printout showing a clean record. This is proof of local reputation and that you expect superior work performed by a person or company who follow state-mandated building codes.
The fastest way to check if the renovation contractor is licensed is by checking online. Most states have a way to do an online contractor lookup so you can verify whether or not a person or company is licensed. For example, this is the Georgia lookup site where we are located.
You should pay attention to consumer complaints, fines, penalties, etc. These details will give you some degree of confidence. However, you should not discount a contractor automatically because of a single complaint. There could be other factors you may not be aware of.
While home improvement projects like painting or swapping out a faucet may not require a licensed professional, you don’t want to take a chance. It’s wise to check with the local building department for the types or sizes of projects that require a licensed contractor. A renovation contractor with the right licensing will oversee a remodel and ensure it complies with the local building codes.
You should avoid contractors who try to convince you that specific remodeling projects don’t need permitting or licensing – they are trying to cut corners. If your project requires a permit (most large projects will) an unlicensed contractor will not be able to pull a permit.
2. Must Have Insurance
Accidents can happen anytime, and there’s no way to guarantee that they will never happen. If an accident occurs on your property and the contractor is not insured, you could find yourself in court and possibly paying for medical expenses, damages and more.
A good home remodeling contractor must have insurance to take care of the unexpected. To be on the safe side, you should ensure the professional you hire has liability insurance in place. And before preliminary discussions can start, you should ask for copies of licenses and insurance – all should be current.
Since legal requirements vary by state, you should contact the insurance division to ask for specific requirements. If a contractor is hesitant to provide this information, then that’s a red flag. Insurance is quite expensive in most cases, so smaller companies may operate without it. You want proof that your contractor is insured!
A bonded contractor offers another safeguard. Bonding refers to money that pays clients if the sub contractors fail to complete a specific job. Just like any other insurance, a contractor is required to pay a specific amount to a third party who agrees to pay the money when needed. The amount of bond will depend on the specific project. Your state may not require a bond in all situations.
3. Must Have Experience
If you needed heart surgery, would you choose to go to a medical student, who just started or would you opt for a surgeon who has done heart surgery for many years? The answer is obvious, or course.
Likewise, when looking for a contractor, you should seek one who has many years of experience, and one who is experienced doing the type of work you need. How many years have they been in business? How established is their portfolio? Are their subcontractors experienced? These questions will help you understand if the contractor would be appropriate to take on your project.
Your contractor will help you choose the right materials, plans, designs and create a plan of action. Furthermore, you want to work with someone who has the skills to add some square footage in homes or knock out a wall.
A good contractor will spot any design flaws in advance before they cost you money. But choose wisely–someone who specializes in remodeling a bathroom may not be ideal for your kitchen renovation. When you understand the final result you want, you should hire someone who meets the needs of your project.
Without an experienced contractor, a project that should take a few days may take several weeks. Even small projects require the expertise of licensed contractors. Along with their years of experience, you should ask prospective contractors for types of renovations they completed. And you should ask for references.
If you don’t pay attention to experience, the quality of construction may suffer.
4. Must Have Legitimate Reviews
When homeowners use the services of a contractor, they will write comments and reviews about the value and quality of remodeling services they received. You should choose a professional who seems open and forthcoming. Plus, you want to work with someone who has completed a project like yours.
Call the contractor’s references and check their reviews. You can also request to see a sample of their work. It’s particularly helpful to see how a renovation project that was completed a few years ago has held up.
You should be on the lookout for things like: are the clients happy with the results? How well do they communicate? How do clients rate the quality of work? These details will give you a hint of what to do next. Also, you should be on the lookout for how the contractor handles complaints. If they are cordial, you expect the same treatment in your project.
Remember, when hiring a renovation contractor you’re buying a service. It’s worth mentioning that the type of service is correlated to the quality of the finished product. When you read online reviews, you’ll get answers to questions like:
- How many homes/projects like yours has the contractor worked on?
- Does the remodeling company have permits to get the required inspections?
- Does the project manager meet project deadlines?
- Is the contractor available for servicing and repairs after the project is completed?
When reading the online reviews, you should pay attention to a few red flags. If some of the clients complain about cheap materials, dark stains, imperfect lines, lack of communication or unresponsiveness, etc., you should move to the next contractor.
Don’t forget to ask for further references from family and friends. If you want to remodel your kitchen, you should ask for a walkthrough of a completed kitchen remodeling project.
Some of the places you can get verified reviews are Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here’s a Should-Have: Industry Associations
Most large cities have associations that contractors join as a way to stay current on trends, local requirements, etc. There are also national associations and trade groups that help educate renovation companies about different types of construction projects.
Is the contractor you are considering a member of any professional association? They may earn special designations through completion of coursework and testing. You want to hire professionals who have passed rigorous tests and course work to earn specific certifications. But all certifications are not equal- you should research to find out the requirements in your area.
For example, if you want someone to help you with a kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel, they should have designations from associations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
Don’t Put Off Your Remodeling Project Any Longer
When choosing a remodeling contractor, you wouldn’t hire the first applicant for the remodeling job. To ensure you narrow down the best candidates, you should check licensing and insurance, examine previous work and reviews, and gather competitive bids. That way, you’ll be in a better position to make the final decision.
If you want to work with a contractor who checks all four of these must-have “boxes”, we’d love to learn more about your next remodeling project. Property Pro Services is located in Alpharetta, GA and services the metro Atlanta area. Check our reviews on Google. Contact us to discuss your remodeling plans, whether you need a new kitchen, bathroom, basement or whole-house renovation.