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How To Vet Your Contractor

Hiring the wrong contractor during your home remodel or construction project  can result in higher expenses, lower quality workmanship, and legal hassles down the road. It is paramount to connect with several contractors, give yourself options, and do the research about their work before you commit to one for your project. Here is how you should vet your contractor.

1. Get Recommendations

Ask local businesses, friends and family for recommendations on contracting companies and get specific peoples’ names. Just like reading the reviews before you buy a product, it’s helpful and reassuring to know someone you trust has had a positive experience with a contractor. Barring unforeseen circumstances, you want to work with someone who you know has completed quality work, on time, without surprise costs.

2. Show Your Project

Don’t just describe your project, provide photos or drawings that show what you want done. If possible, provide realistic mock-ups or models to give different types of contractors an idea of what they’ll be working with. Having a conversation about what is realistic as far as completion dates, and making your vision come to life will give you an idea of how well you will work with a contractor. Aside from that, most construction companies will not work without seeing the project first, especially if they’re going to be responsible for material selections and/or installation details.

3. Ask For Visuals of Previous Work

Since you’re vetting your contractor to make sure they have experience and can do the job, ask to take a look at their other projects. Many service providers will list sample projects on their websites or in marketing materials, but this information is often vague and difficult to confirm. A contractor with a portfolio is a great sign, but any official photos whether in presentation form or on their website will give you a much better idea of not only if they can create a style you like, but their level of professionalism as a company. If they cannot provide any of their previous work, this could be a red flag.

4. Check Their References

This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people skip this step even though it provides valuable insights into whether or not a company can deliver what it promises. Talk with past clients to learn about the quality of workmanship, responsiveness and overall value provided by your potential construction company. You can typically get names of former clients from construction companies, you can check out their online reviews on sites like Angie’s List or Yelp.

5. Compare Their Bids.

The old saying “you get what you pay for” is still true when it comes to construction bids. Local market conditions play a big role in determining the prices that are quoted, but there will typically be some variation even among quotes submitted by competing contractors. Take your time vetting your contractor by carefully analyzing the bids and adjusting the figures to reflect your preferences for customization or other factors that might affect price or quality.

6. Go With Your Gut

There is no reason to be too nervous to skip any of the steps listed above; vetting a contractor comes down to making an informed decision about who can best deliver what you want done at a price that makes sense for your budget. However, in the end you have to go with your gut and trust what your instincts are telling you about which construction company is right for you. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with their approach, if they seem like they would take good care of you and your project, and if they are expert enough to handle unforeseen circumstances.  If you don’t love what you’ve seen or heard, vet a few other companies or get a second opinion. With all of this in mind, you’ll find the right contractor for your project.

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