When your home is in need of repair or improvements, you want to be sure you're trusting it to the right hands; a quality contractor can make or break your renovation experience. When on the hunt for just the right person, keep the following advice in mind:
- Ask for referrals. Check with friends, relatives, neighbours, co-workers, even your realtor and local home improvement store or lumberyard. Make sure the recommended contractor is licensed to work in your area, and is bonded and insured.
- Give them a call. Ask the contractors if they take on projects of your size, and how available they are.
- Meet them in person. Once they pass the phone test, set up an appointment to meet them in person. Are they late for the appointment, or worse, do they not show up at all? Do the contractors wipe their feet or take off their shoes when entering your home? If not, that could be a clue they'll track dirt and mud throughout your home while the project is being completed.
- Take your time. Interview at least three candidates, ask for references and contact their previous clients to ask if they're happy with the work the contractor did for them. Check licenses, complaints and litigation history; you want to be sure the contractor is properly qualified and doesn't have a history of disputes. Also check insurance coverage to find out what is covered by the contractor's business versus your own home insurance.
- Get everything in writing. Ask the contractor to break down all costs in the contract, including the cost of any permits they will be securing for you, in addition to materials and labour. Get the approximate start date and projected completion date in writing, and detail the payment schedule too.