We’ve all done it. We’ve scrolled through photos and articles about Kitchen Remodels and other home makeovers on Pinterest and here at BlogHer and thought “I bet I could do that.” Here’s a tip: don’t. At least don’t try to go it alone—especially if you don’t have any contracting or construction experience yourself!
Doing minor home makeovers and renovations yourself can be a great way to save money—nobody is going to try to tell you otherwise. But there is a difference between painting your bathroom or putting in some laminate flooring and completely remodeling your kitchen. For one thing, your homeowner’s insurance will probably cover the fixing of a hole you gouged in your kitchen floor. They likely won’t cover the cost of the repairs and renovations that you’ll incur when you decide to create a breakfast nook by knocking out what will turn out to be a load bearing wall (bringing down your second floor’s landing in the process).
The best thing to do when you want to makeover your house is to hire a contractor and a crew (or a contractor that has his own crew) to help you plan and carry out the bigger home renovation projects–i.e. anything that would take you more than a day to do yourself and that requires any sort of real construction skill or knowledge).
Before you pick a name off Google, though, you should know that not all contractors are created equal. For one thing anybody can say they’re a contractor but not everybody has the qualifications and licensing to take on contracting and construction jobs.
Here are some of the things you need to do if you want to make sure that you get the best contractor for your project.
1. Research Matters
Real contractors must be properly licensed and bonded. You can check their license numbers at your local city or county offices and with your local licensing boards. In addition to checking their license numbers you’ll want to make sure that they are properly insured and bonded.
In addition to asking to see proof of that insurance, call the company through which they obtained their insurance and/or bonding. My friend did this when her contractor told her that he got his insurance through Econtractorsinsurance.com. She said the phone call only took a couple of minutes.
2. Do the Leg Work
It’s easy enough for a contractor to provide names and numbers of previous clients and photos of the work that he has done. Do not rely solely on phone calls and thumbnail images. Instead, when you call the references, ask if you can come over and take a look at the work that was done. You can see many things in person that could easily be covered or “touched” up in a photo.
For that matter, run your potential contractor’s name through sites like Angie’s List and Yelp. References are “pre-screened.” Look up at least a few independent reviews to make sure that you’re hiring someone who will be professional throughout the project, not just during the hiring process.
3. Personality Matters
You are hiring someone (a group of someones really) to spend, at the very least, a few days in and around your home (or a few months if the remodel is extensive). It is important that your personalities jive. You don’t want to get stuck having someone you hate in charge of helping you remake your home, do you?
These are just three of the most important things you can do when hiring a contractor.