Some tips for choosing a contractor

How do you know?

First, some pitfalls:

  • Some of those find-a-contractor sites on the Internet are not reliable. On some sites, all a contractor has to do to be listed is pay a fee, which any unskilled laborer could do. Also, some contractors pay their customers to post positive reviews on a site, and even write the reviews themselves. If you use one of these sites, be just a bit skeptical.

  • It is a mistake to assume that the lowest bid is the best deal. The scope of work and specifications for the low bid will not be the same as the scope and specs for the high bid. Often, the lowest bidder is not as qualified as you'd like or intends to add extra charges once he begins your project. The lowest estimate is a qualification for nothing.

How to go about it:

  • The best way to find a remodeler is to get referrals from people you know and trust. If you get an enthusiastic recommendation, hire the person. 

Otherwise:​

  • Get a few names and invite the contractors to give you quotes.

  • The hardest part of the process is making sure you're comparing apples to apples. This may take several phone calls (or texts or emails). Ask them all, "What does 'sink installation' (for example) include? The answers you get -- and don't get -- will educate you.

  • Pay attention to how each contractor answers your questions and how you feel about the way he or she treats you.

  • Ask your bidders how long they've been in the business. A person who's been at it for several years is probably doing things right.

  • Last, when you're pretty sure you know whom you want to hire, ask for references and talk to some of the contractor's previous customers. Were they happy with the work that was done? Were there added charges, and if so, why? Did the remodeler show up when he said he would and return phone calls in a reasonable amount of time? Was he easy to work with? Would they recommend him?

  • Ask to see your contractor's Certificates of Insurance for both liability and workers compensation. Hiring an uninsured remodeler could turn into a nightmare.

  • Bear in mind you can't put a price on reliability, openness, and integrity. Hire the contractor you believe in. The result is sure to be a great job at a fair price, and that gives you a happy house.