The success of a construction project hinges on which contractor you hire for the job. But with dozens of contractors in your area, all of whom are marketing themselves as the top candidate for the job, it can be challenging to choose which professional to work with. And with a lot of money and time on the line, comparison shopping for a contractor becomes a high-stakes game. Here are three easy steps to guide you to filter your options and pick the right contractor for your project.
Fully Understand Your Project
It’s not enough to know what room you want to add to your existing home. You will need to know everything that your project demands before finding and choosing a contractor, i.e., your budget limit, project timeframe, and material preferences. You should also know how many laborers are required to complete the project within your required timeline.
Other things to consider are zoning permits and whether or not the project will affect surrounding spaces. For instance, a home remodeling project that will be adding a guest room to your house may render your dining room or living room inoperative for the project’s duration. Meanwhile, a construction project that involves building an entirely new structure on top of a piece of land may require a specific building permit from your local municipal.
Know What to Look For
Define a set of minimum qualifications that a prospective contractor must have to be considered for the project. For starters, your prospect should be licensed to work in your area. Ask for a contractor’s license number or his/her home improvement salesperson registration. You can then look up information regarding the contractor on the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board. Depending on location, the license name and website may vary.
In addition to a license, a contractor should also be bonded and insured. Having both these things can add to a contractor’s credibility and trustworthiness. If a contractor is not guaranteed and a laborer gets injured on-site, you could be held responsible for the expenses. The same goes for any property damages that are incurred by surrounding neighbors during the project.
Lastly, look for a contractor who specializes in the type of project you are planning to start. Nowadays, most projects are bound by strict regulations and codes, so you want to work with someone who knows the trade’s ins and outs. You can check the contractor’s portfolio of recent projects and read testimonials left by clients. A contractor you plan on hiring may also be currently working on a project. Ask if you can visit the site to assess the quality of work and how his/her team operates.
Narrow Down Your Options
Now that you have a set of criteria to filter your candidates with, you can start narrowing down options based on other factors, including pricing and availability. When it comes to cost, experts recommend throwing out any lowball bids. It’s common for contractors to offer up their services at a competitively lower price and cut corners to offset the discounted rate.
Comfort should have more weight when considering which contractor to hire. If you choose someone whose personality does not match yours, it can be challenging to work together for the project’s duration, taking several days to several months. Observe how well you and the contractor communicates. If you are already having a hard time understanding each other during the initial consultation, it can be a sign that he/she isn’t the right fit.
See what equipment and team the contractor brings to the table. Does he/she have all the equipment and machinery needed for the project, i.e., scaffolding, walk boards and planks, masonry tools, shoring jack, etc. As for the workforce, ask about their worker’s technical training and experience. Were they just recently hired? Are they physically capable of lifting heavy machinery and supplies?
As a final step, draw up a detailed contract that covers the project in its entirety. This includes payment milestones, work schedules, proof of liability coverage, start and completion date, and so on. Take the time and effort to find the right contractor and draw up a legal agreement to ensure your project is completed in a timely and accurate manner.