DCP: What to Look For in a Home Improvement Contractor

What to Look For in a Home Improvement Contractor

You have decided to have remodeling or renovations done. Unless you have unlimited money and a second home in a warm climate, be prepared for stress to enter into your life on many levels. However, you can prevent a large portion of this stress if you do your homework before the work starts.


The most important,and hardest task facing you is deciding exactly what you want done. If you have only a vague idea of what you want your new kitchen to look like, spend the time to look through magazines and brochures on kitchens, or take photos of friends' kitchens that you love. Your vague ideas will begin to take shape and you will have a much better chance of getting what you want. 


Before you contact a contractor or an architect, you have to know what you want done to your house. If you canít be specific about what you want, itís unrealistic to expect a contractor, who doesnít know you or your lifestyle, to be able to fulfill your dream. 


If you want to involve an architect, make sure that your contractor is also involved in the design process. Many contractors are creative in design and are well-versed on practical application. Having the contractor and architect working together from the beginning will alleviate many potential problems. 


A good functional design is important. The highest quality materials and best craftsmanship are of no use if the design is not functional.


Most contractors get their jobs through referrals from satisfied customers, so do not be attracted only to large flashy ads in the yellow pages. Talk to friends who have had remodeling work done; network with acquaintences to broaden your pool of potentials; drive around your area and see if there is work being done; and ask your plumber, electrician, or landscaper who they would recommend. Town building officials may be able to steer you away from problem contractors.


Choose your contractor carefully; you will live with the results of your decision for a long time. Don't choose a contractor based on just a low bid. Having contractors bid on your job may not be the best way to choose the best contractor, but it may give you a ballpark figure. 


Before choosing a contractor: 

  • Decide: can you communicate openly with the contractor?
  • Ask: does he/she take the time to really listen to what you want?
  • Look at both recent and past jobs.
  • Talk to past customers.
  • Verify that the contractor is currently registered.
  • Check his/her current workload. Can this contractor really start and finish when they say they can?

A contractor expects that you: 

  • Communicate your objectives and expectations from the very start.
  • Provide the necessary money -- pay promptly.
  • Provide access to the project.
  • Once you have chosen a contractor you trust, allow him/her to lead.
  • Be available for meetings.
  • Make decisions promptly.
  • Accept fair and reasonable standards of performance. Perfection is rare in construction.
  • Be prepared for unpredictable conditions. Contractors don't control the weather.
  • Be responsible for your own actions which will affect the job.
  • Treat him and his crew the way you would like to be treated.


Content Last Modified on 6/3/2013 1:19:32 PM