In 2016 you can do a simple google search and find dozens of potential contractors in a matter of seconds. Picking someone at random though is not the best option. There are countless factors that must be addressed in order to ensure that the project you are working on gets done right, with no issues the first time around. No matter the size of your project, large or small it is crucial that you find the best contractor for the job. 

 

Below is a step by step guide on how to find and hire a contractor the correct way.

 

Ask around

Your best resource is the friends and family around you. Ask those friends that have recently had a remodeling project done if they would recommend the contractor they worked with. A project successfully completed is the pride and joy of any homeowner so they will be all for boasting about it to you. If your friends or family don’t know of any reputable contractor consider asking a trusted real estate agent (if you recently purchased a home through them). Or visit a trusted showroom or reputable store and ask for their list of recommended contractors. A Google or Craigslist search is also acceptable but we advise you to be cautious and do extensive research on the contractor before hiring. 

Look them up

After you have a list of a few contractors that have been recommended to you by friends, family, or someone else go through the list and look each contractor up. Do they have a website with more information about them? Do they feature galleries of their completed work? Do they have customer testimonials? How about company values and goals? All of these aspects are important parts that will help determine if the contractor you are looking at is right for you. Another place to check if you don’t find a website is social media accounts. Look them up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram… get to know who they really are. Not just what they tell you about themselves. This isn’t invasive, it’s a way to ensure that the contractor you hire will be someone you can trust in your home and around your family. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to ensure that the contractors you have narrowed down don’t have any negative history or customer disputes. 

 

Carefully check reviews and completed jobs

Once you look them up, go through their reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, & Houzz. See what their customers have to say about them. Read the reviews thoroughly, don’t just glance at the rating given. Many times customers can leave a negative review that isn’t justified so read the review fully to see what the reason was. Looking at the reviews can give you a clearer image of who the contractor is and how he/she gets the job done. 

 

Request a bid from multiple contractors

Once you narrow your choice down to just a few contractors send them a quick email with some basic information about your project (enough to let them know what you want) and request an estimate.

 

Don’t go for the lowest bid

Although it may be tempting, the lowest bid is almost never the best choice. Don’t skimp on quality when you’re already investing thousands of dollars in a home improvement project. Once you get a few bids back place them side by side and look over the differences in pricing as well as the differences between the contractors. This is where you look back at the reviews for each contractor, glance over their completed jobs, and find the one that you believe will do the best job for the best price. 

 

Meet face to face

Set up a meeting with the contractor you feel most comfortable with hiring, where you actually have them come out to take a look at your project. Ask them plenty of questions, they should be able to give you satisfactory answers that make you feel comfortable with them. Ensure that they are well experienced in their trade, and get a sense of what kind of person they really are. The main thing you should pay attention to is, can you trust them? 

 

Check licensing and insurance credentials

Make sure that the contractor you are hiring is both licensed (in your state) and insured. This is crucial and in a worst case scenario situation will save you giant headache and thousands if not millions of dollars. 

Set a payment schedule & create a contract

This is a painful point for both homeowners and the contractor. You want the safety and security of knowing the project will be done right & on time for the amount agreed. The contractor on the other hand also wants to be paid for his job and ensure that you don’t make him do all of the work only to say you can’t afford it at the end. It’s an age old problem, the payment process is a sore topic for both homeowners & contractors. To ensure that this process goes as smooth as possible put it in writing. Create a contract and a payment schedule that both you and the contractor agree with. Sign it, and stick to it. This is your binding document that keeps both of you in check. Give a large enough deposit that the contractor is comfortable with and you are as well. Generally this is 10-20 percent of the project cost. The rest of the payments are spread out as agreed upon in the contract.

If you want more home improvement tips & tricks, consider subscribing to an online journal we started called PDXPRO. Created by Divine Hardwood & Stone as well as many other professionals in Portland. Visit www.pdxpro.org to find out more information.