The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor

Additions and Remodels
Small Projects and Repairs
By Contractors.com Team May 06, 2021

Rarely does rushing anything produce completely satisfying results. The same goes for hiring contractors for your renovations, remodels, and other construction projects. By spending enough time searching for the right general contractor to handle your project, you will be rewarded with results that you asked for with minimal hitches during the journey. With enough research and the limitless tools and databases for professionals like those on Contractors.com at your disposal, you’re sure to find an experienced professional to handle all your construction needs.

From small room layout changes to building an entire house, the job of a general contractor is to oversee the entire process. They will be responsible for hiring all the right specialists, creating deadlines, and keeping the budget in order. This is just a small snippet of what they do, as a contractor’s list of responsibilities goes far beyond a simple supervisor. If construction is new to you, finding the right contractor may seem difficult at first. But being aware of a few general do’s and don’ts will help you find a suitable specialist that’s a perfect match for you.

1. Do Create a Precise Plan for Your Renovation

The Importance of Planning Well

The Importance of Planning Well

Having a plan is crucial when hiring a licensed contractor, even if it’s not too detailed. Before you can even think about hiring a specialist of any trade, consider exactly what you want from them. To understand whether or not your project is something your contractor can do it is recommended you provide them with tangible goals and deadlines. 

If the project in question is a kitchen remodel, for example, give them an idea of the new layout, what multi-functional furniture you’re going to install, where the cabinets are going to be, the size of your kitchen islands, and when you want the remodel completed. If you are looking for a contractor to give you the answers to some of these questions, that, of course, is totally normal, too. But even then, it will be good to have a clear idea of some of the materials you do or don’t want, the budget you are working with, and what your must-haves are. Once your contractor has a general idea to work off of, the renovation contractor will provide you with a more accurate cost estimate and deadlines. You can then decide on who to pick based on these estimates.

2. Don't Hire Blindly

It’s very easy to settle for the first hiree option that sounds relatively close to what you’re looking for. However, in your search for a licensed contractor for your project, you shouldn’t impulse hire simply based on how good an offer sounds. Plan out your options by listing all the possible specialists that seem to be close to what you’re looking for. 

Don’t hesitate to plan an interview with more than one contractor; even over the phone will do. You can prepare by reviewing their previous work in their online portfolios. You can even ask them to come by your home and take a look at the site themselves. Ask them to explain every little detail of the work cut out ahead and take notes (even if you’re not getting all of the jargon). Then use these notes to formulate questions for the next candidate. And don’t forget about those recommendations, even if they're from strangers online. Not all contractors may have an extensive digital portfolio that public, but any licensed contractor should be in an accessible listing somewhere. Reach out to previous clients of theirs and ask about the contractor's level of organization, their cleanliness, and the speed at which they work.

3. Do Ask for Recommendations

Tips for Choosing the Best Contractor for You

Tips for Choosing the Best Contractor for You

This seems obvious at first, but a lot of people forget to simply ask those around them for recommendations. Whether it’s your friend, family, coworker, or neighbor, there’s a very good chance they’ve hired a local contractor at some point. Contractors are among the most in-demand trades within the construction sector, so naturally, they’re a common requirement for anyone working on a construction project.

Ask someone who recently had a renovation or remodeling done, as this gives you the opportunity to see the results of their contractor’s work in person. Tell them to be completely honest and unfiltered in their feedback to get the most out of their recommendation. Here are some questions you can ask to give you a clearer idea of what to expect from that contractor: 

  • How did you find them?
  • Were they friendly and easy to work with?
  • Are they licensed?
  • Do they stick to deadlines?

Additional questions will be situational ones that come to you as you receive feedback from the person you’re asking. The more you know about their recommended contractor, the higher chance you’ll have of finding someone suitable for you.

4. Don’t Focus on the Price

Budgeting Well Before a Remodel

Budgeting Well Before a Remodel

Chasing prices can have its benefits, but more often than not it leads to dissatisfaction for the clients. The quote or fee can give you a (very) general idea of what to expect from a particular service. However, you shouldn’t judge someone or their work exclusively by their price. Instead, find a contractor that’s within your budget and then look at other factors that matter as well, like whether they have done similar projects in the past. 

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that by paying less you’re getting a better bargain. What you should be doing is finding the best specialist within your price range. By hiring a less experienced contractor for the sake of paying them less, you risk paying more in the future for repairs and maintenance as a result of the initial project not going entirely as planned. 

5. Do Understand Your Budget

When hiring a contractor, you should understand the kind of budget your construction, remodel, or renovation is going to need. This is highly dependent on the scope of your project, as most construction managers and general contractors will charge 10% to 20% of the total project costs. Basically: the bigger your project, the more work the contractor will have to do, and so the higher the service fee. In some cases, contractors will charge a service fee of up to 25% of the total cost, but this mostly happens with very large construction projects. 

By calculating your budget early on, you’ll have a better understanding of which hiree bids are within your price range. A well-constructed budget also helps make the initial conversations you’ll have with your contractor more realistic, even if they are pre-hire conversations. After all, their timeline estimates as well as their quotes are highly dependent on your budget. Consider it another way of speeding up the process of finding a fitting professional for your project.

6. Don’t Ignore the Paperwork

A very important factor in how to choose a contractor is paperwork. By ignoring it or not paying much attention to it, you may end up facing legal problems. W9s for the IRS and insurance contracts for the workers are rarely fun to fill out and tend to be the most boring part of any renovation or construction. But it’s there for a reason. The purpose of all this red tape is to ensure the safety of everyone involved from the builders to the individuals who’ll be using this structure.

When you hire a licensed contractor, you’re not only getting their expertise, knowledge, and skills but also all the permits and licenses required by the state. Contractors are required by state law to be officially registered and own all the necessary licenses. Contact your local building office to find out about all the permits you’ll need. Once you know what the mandatory paperwork is, make sure your contractor has all of it at hand before offering them the job. Never hire a contractor or construction specialist (or any specialist for that matter), if they don’t possess all the state-required licenses.

7. Do Get Involved in the Process

How to Make the Most of Working With Your Contractor

How to Make the Most of Working With Your Contractor

Here is a little tip that’s great to implement before and after finding the right contractor for the job: get involved as much as you can. Even the most experienced contractors won’t understand your intentions to a tee.  No one knows exactly what you’re looking for in the results other than yourself. So, if you wish to find a contractor that can best interpret your vision, you need to get involved in the process.

Research construction materials, how the process is going to be undertaken, what trades are needed along the way, and what equipment is going to be used. Once you know more about the process, you can formulate more complex questions for your potential contractor and get more in-depth information from them. Knowing this information will help you narrow down which contractors know would best fit your project. Don’t alienate yourself from the process — get involved as much as possible and you will find the perfect contractor for your project.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team