How to Find The Right Contractor

Home renovations are exciting ventures that add value and a new perspective to your home. Whether you want new windows in your living room, a more stable roof above your head or maybe even a jacuzzi in your master bathroom -- you need a contractor that you can rely on to do a professional job at a reasonable price. Every year, more homeowners are choosing to remodel rather than relocate. There are two things every homeowner cares about -- their home, and their budget. Take the time to hire a contractor who sets up and shows up for an appointment; one that has references, relevant experience and the proper insurance. So, how do you know you’ve found the right contractor? Here are a few tips:

Do Your Research

The internet is an excellent resource for checking up on a contractor or company. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides reviews of many local contractors, including accredited companies that have shown good business ethics and customer support. For a more informal approach, social media pages provide a lot of clues about the way a company or contractor conducts themselves. A Facebook business page will provide review ratings and posts from previous customers. If the contractor doesn’t have a social media account that you can find, check for reviews on websites like Angies List or Yelp.

Once you find a contractor that fits your needs, confirm their licensing and insurance. Are they licensed to work where you live? Do they have general liability insurance? At the very least, you will want a contractor to have workers’ compensation insurance, so you aren’t financially responsible for any injuries on the job. At your initial appointment, ask for a copy of their insurance and license. Ask anything you are curious about and expect an informative, sure answer! After all, it’s your home on the line.

Put It In Writing

It’s important to have the entire plan fleshed out in a contract. The contract for the project should detail the schedule, budget, down payment, payment plan, who the subcontractors are (if any), what materials are being used -- all things that should be agreed upon before the project starts. The down payment should be roughly 5-10% of the overall job cost, unless special order materials are to be used. If your contractor asks you for a crazy down payment on a simple job, it’s likely they are having significant financial issues. Often, these contractors are behind with suppliers, employees, and subcontractors. Read through and make sure you fully understand the contract. Check for language that includes lien waivers -- if the contractor doesn’t pay their subcontractors, make sure they can’t come to you for the money. While you want to be able to rely on your contractor to be honest and fair, this step is the best method of finding out just how transparent they are. Reasonable prices are vital, but an inconsistent schedule can prove to be just as difficult. Make sure the contract includes estimated start dates with estimated completion times. You and your contractor should be on the same page (and schedule), so make sure there’s at least an estimated time frame for the project.

Watch Out For These Signs

You can never be too careful. If you’ve gotten this far and everything seems to be alright with your selected contractor -- great! If the contract seems fair but you’re still not sure, pay attention to a few warning signs:

  • If the contractor pressures you for a quick decision
  • A contractor who only accepts cash
  • The company or contractor wants to skip pulling a building permit themselves
  • Quotes a price without seeing what work needs to be done
  • A contractor that does not have a physical address you can visit

Call A Trusted Expert

Listen to your gut! If you’ve done your research and feel that your project contract is fair, you’re probably right. There are scam artists in the industry and your job as a homeowner is to be forward thinking. Often, your local building department can provide names of contractors that are licensed and insured to work in your community. Luckily, there are local contractors in Western New York that have ethics and integrity! Stockmohr is a family-owned and operated business in Clarence, New York with years of outstanding customer service under our toolbelts. To learn more about the trusted “Stockmohr way”, check out our About Us page here.