So you’ve been looking to finally update that part of your home that could use a little TLC, but you don’t know where to start. You’ve got a general idea about what you want, but who should you employ to advise you along the way and do the work for you? Should you try to track down your neighbor’s son’s buddy whom you’ve heard is pretty handy? Is it time to head for the yellow pages? If you’ve ended up here, you probably searched for something local on an internet search engine. Great choice, but be wary! There are 5 basic questions you should ask yourself when choosing a contractor.
1. Do they have proper training & certification?
I hate to break it to you, but your neighbor’s son’s buddy probably is NOT certified. Regardless of whether or not he’s done similar work all over the neighborhood, there’s no guaranteeing he’s done it with the best practices in mind. Make sure your contractor has proper certification and training before you sign the dotted line. Some common certifications include:
- Mastic Elite Contractor
- VSI Vinyl Siding Institute Certified Installer
- GAF Certified Weather Stopper Contractor
- EPA Lead-Safe
2. Does Price = Value?
When anyone thinks about doing home remodeling or improvement, price is going to be a major deciding factor. You may be very tempted to get estimates from the first few contractors you can find and then just hire the company that bid you the lowest. Stop right there! Take a few steps back, and think about the last big investment you made. You probably didn’t take the cheapest way out. What you should look for is value, or “Bang for your Buck.” Ask yourself, “What am I getting for my money from each of these contractors?” You will be pleasantly surprised to find that there are reasons some prices are a little higher than others. It could be experience, more capabilities, better service, more certification, etc. Whatever the price may be, make sure it’s going to create long-lasting value for your home.
3. Do they have systems in place?
So what does “systems in place” mean? Well, in essence, it’s similar to the way a restaurant operates. There is a specific process that is carried out every time you arrive. You are first greeted and guided to your seat by the host, then the waiter stops by, introduces himself and takes care of your every request… you know the drill. Your contractor should operate in a similar fashion, but substitute the food for home improvement. There should be a specific set of processes that are carried out for each customer to ensure an efficient and seamless project from start to finish. If you’re still unsure as to what a job process or “system” looks like, take a look at our retail job process diagram here.
4. Is this contractor insured?
This is a BIG one when it comes to choosing your contractor. This is important for 2 reasons:
1) It protects you as the homeowner against any liability lawsuits if any of the workers were hurt while doing your remodeling.
2) It protects your home against any unforeseen damages that occur during the remodeling process. (ie. Stray hammer bursting pipes)
Basically, you want to make sure your contractor has an up to date worker’s compensation and general liability insurance policy.
5. Do they have any references or testimonials?
This seems to be a no-brainer, but it can be very telling factor when it comes time to choose your contractor. Check out your prospective contractor’s website to see if they have any videos or written testimonials about their past work. Or, give them a call and ask for numbers of past clients to receive real-time, unfiltered feedback. Also, head over to the Better Business Bureau’s website and find out what the BBB has to say about your prospective contractors.