Hiring a contractor is like buying a house — it takes some time and research. Before you start interviewing potential contractors, do some investigation of your own.
Renovating a home is a huge undertaking. From choosing the right materials to reorganizing your life to make space for construction, the last thing you want on your to-do list is the ordeal of hiring a reputable and affordable contractor. This high-stakes decision can have a disproportionate impact on your renovation and make the difference between finishing on-budget and on-time — or not.
When you sell your house Orchard, our Concierge staff are experts at hiring and coordinating with contractors to create value-boosting home improvements, so we put together this useful guide to help you do the same.
Before we dive into tips for hiring contractors, let’s talk about some of the reasons to hire one. You may be surprised to learn that outsourcing the work can actually mean a cheaper, more effective, and professional home renovation. Here’s why:
Finding a contractor can feel like an ordeal. Variations in skill, demand, and availability can make it hard to find the one.
Start your search by seeking referrals from friends, family, or colleagues who have recently completed similar projects. If you’re unable to find a contractor via referral, online resources such as Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, or Houzz are great alternatives. These websites can provide reviews, ratings, and other useful information about contractors in your area.
Once you’ve assembled a list of contractors, it’s time to start interviewing them. Don’t be shy about asking questions. These conversations will give you insight into their process and if they’re a good fit for you or not. Here are some questions to get you started:
Not all home improvement projects will require a contractor. For example, installing simple wainscoting in your home can be tackled by experienced and newbie DIYers alike, while a full kitchen remodel or finishing an attic should be left to the professionals. Here are some tips to help you decide when you should hire a contractor or take on your home improvement project yourself:
The amount of time you'll need to hire a contractor will depend on the scale and complexity of your project, as well as the availability of contractors in your area. Below are some general guidelines for how far in advance you should hire a contractor:
In general, the earlier you can start looking for a contractor, the better. This will give you more time to research your options, get quotes, and ensure that you find a contractor who can meet your needs and budget.
So you’ve decided it’s time to hire a contractor. Following these eight tips will ensure the process easy and effective:
Get quotes from at least three different contractors. This will give you a better idea of the average cost of your project and help you avoid overpaying. It will also give you a sense of the types of warranties and guarantees that you should expect.
Multiple bids can also give you some negotiation power. If you receive a higher bid from one contractor, you can use other lower bids as a reference point to negotiate a better price or more favorable terms. This can potentially save you money or result in improved project conditions.
While going with the lowest bidder might seem like a great way to save money, it could end up costing you if the contractor offers a lower quality of work, makes mistakes, or simply lacks the experience necessary to complete your project. Take these factors into account when assessing the best contractor for your job, and don’t be afraid to pay a little extra for a tried and true professional.
Reading any contract carefully is an essential step to ensuring that you fully understand the terms, obligations, and rights associated with the project. It can also help protect you from potential disputes or legal issues down the road.
As you read your contract, take time to clarify any ambiguities, identify unfavorable terms, and understand your rights and obligations as a client. Review the termination and dispute resolution clause so you know what to expect if things go wrong. Lastly, verify that the contract clearly outlines the timeline for completion, material and equipment specifications, and parties involved.
As a part of your contract, you’ll set a payment schedule. Review this part of the contract with extra care to ensure that you and your contractor are on the same page. Note the payment terms, including when payments are due, how much payments are for, and any additional costs or contingencies. If these terms don’t align with your budget or expectations, you may be better off with a different contractor.
Delays happen, and they’re often not the fault of your contractor. Weather, supply chain issues, and permit issues are just a few examples of things outside of your contractor’s control that could contribute to delays. Expecting a few hiccups can help keep your cool during a home renovation project and make the process easier on everyone.
A lot can happen in the process of a home renovation, and your contractor will be your point person to help you navigate the ups and downs. But your contractor is also a busy person who has to balance multiple contracts, coordinating between vendors and workers, and more.
Early on in the process, ask your contractor how they prefer to communicate — via phonecall, text, email, etc. That way, if you have questions or things don’t go according to plan, you know how to get in touch without distracting from their many priorities.
Create a file at the beginning of your project to collect estimates, contracts, receipts, plans, photographs, and anything else related to the job. Not only will this make it easier to reference documents during the renovation, but when you’re ready to sell, it can help you provide detailed information to potential buyers and get the most ROI.
If you’re looking to make value-boosting improvements before listing your house for sale, Orchard can help provide the best recommendations for your local market, and our Concierge service coordinate with contractors to complete the work at no upfront cost to you.
Interested in learning more? Get started with a free home valuation — our estimates are 30% more accurate.
Here are more answers to all your questions about hiring a contractor.
A contractor is a professional who is hired to complete a specific project or job, such as a home renovation. Contractors may specialize in certain types of work, such as plumbing, electrical, or carpentry, or they may offer general contracting services that encompass a wide range of tasks.
A contractor is responsible for ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget. A subcontractor, on the other hand, is a professional who is hired by the contractor to perform a specific task or set of tasks within the project. Subcontractors may specialize in a particular trade, such as plumbing, electrical, or carpentry, and are typically responsible for their own workers and equipment.
The contract is a crucial document that outlines the scope of work, pricing, payment schedule, and other important details related to your renovation project. When reviewing a contract, be sure to look for the following:
While most contractors are reputable and reliable, there are some red flags to watch out for that may indicate a problem. These include a contractor who isn't licensed or insured, asks for payment upfront before any work has been done, and refuses to provide references or a written contract. A bad contractor will also refuse to answer your questions or address your concerns.
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