Choosing a contractor is like hiring a new employee. You always follow a process and consider beyond the first candidate.
Create a shortlist.
First things first, create a shortlist of 10 to 15 contractors who have the expertise you’re looking for. There are many ways to find prospects – ask friends and relatives, read online reviews, use social media, etc.
Contractors can be generalists, but always choose a specialist, especially one whose creativity stands out. Ask for a portfolio from every contractor you’ve shortlisted, and make sure it contains at least ten projects finished over the last year. Photos should be provided for every space before, during and after the project was completed.
Ask about licensing and certification.
Home improvement contractors can hold varying licenses or certifications, depending on what types of projects they handle. Legal requirements also vary by state, so make sure you call your area’s licensing office to know what exactly you should look for. Of course, this should come with choosing a contractor who has liability and workers compensation insurance, and don’t hesitate to ask for copies of their policies.
Speak to references.
A good contractor will be eager to provide client references with all necessary contact information. Absolutely, you have to talk to each one and keep notes during your phone call.
Look at one finished project.
After talking to references and crossing out the ones who got bad reviews, decide which of the remaining references you’ll want to visit so you can see the contractor’s work yourself. Of course, you need to ask them politely for permission. It’s good to pick project that was finished a few years ago so you can determine how well it fared over time.
Lastly, after thoroughly consulting the contractors on your list, ask each of them for a bid. This should include a project timeline, the types of materials they plan to use, and the project’s overall cost. While reviewing the quotes, take note that cheapest isn’t necessarily best. The materials and amount of work will surely vary among different contractors. For instance, someone may use prefabricated cabinets and charge lower than a woodworker who actually makes the cabinets with his own hands, but certainly, there will be a significant difference in your kitchen’s final look and vibe. Make a list of your overall goals for the project and choose the contractor who appears to be most suitable.