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How to pick the right contractor

Follow these tips to help save time and money

Choose the right contractor to help you achieve your dream space. Photo credit:

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Preparing to undergo any home project, big or small, can be exciting but also intimidating. Many projects can be done yourself with the right tools and a few hours studying YouTube videos. Then there are bigger projects that require permitting, licenses and field experts. Choosing the right contractor can save time and money, as well as give you a long-lasting finished job. These steps will help get you there.

Have a Goal

Before you even begin searching, know your project inside and out. If you don't have a clear goal or vision, it will be impossible to communicate your needs and wishes. If this task is daunting, consider hiring a designer to help you. Many kitchen and bath retailers offer these services, sometimes even for free. There are also many easy-to-use planners online, as well as idea board apps like Pinterest.

Get Multiple Bids

There is no rule to how many bids you should obtain, but if you consider you aren't just looking at cost, but how you see yourself working with someone, the more options the better. This is someone you will be working closely with and in potentially stressful situations. Sometimes choosing a contractor with a higher bid because of their professionalism will be worth it in the end.

Do Your Homework

Check into the history of your contractor's work. Call the references they provide and ask as many questions as you need. Go online and track if they are in good standing. Check out their portfolio, and if any of the spaces are commercial, go check them out in person. Most importantly, verify that they are licensed and insured in your state. All contractors are required to be registered in the state of Washington if they are doing any work that adds to or subtracts from real estate value. Speak with your contractor or town about what permits are required for your project and make sure they are pulled.

Understand Your Bid and Contract

The more detailed your bid the better. Be sure you understand exactly what every charge is for, so there aren't any surprises. Talk to your contractor about what happens when the cost of the project has to change, or if unforeseen hold-ups occur.  Be sure the start and completion dates are included in the contract, as well as license and insurance verification, payment terms and permitting needs. Protect yourself and the contractor by making sure everything is in writing.

Avoid the Scammers

While it may seem convenient and helpful to have associates come directly to your door pitching free window and roof estimates, without doing proper research, it can result in overpaying, or worse, getting scammed. There are many legitimate businesses that still utilize the door-to-door approach, but beware of pushy and aggressive sales pitches.

Taking your time to properly research the project and contractor is the best way to prevent a bad (and expensive) experience. Understanding materials, procedures, state laws and requirements will make you feel more involved and knowledgeable throughout your remodel process. 

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