Working with a contractor: 5 helpful hints


One of the best parts about homeownership is being able to tailor your living space to your personal taste. That can range from simply pounding a nail in a wall so you can hang some artwork to knocking down that same wall as part of a gut-job renovation.

Nail pounding is probably something you can tackle on your own. A full-scale renovation, or even a partial one? Not so much. Take it from Ty, you’re going to need a professional contractor for a number of reasons, including ensuring that the work conforms to code and feeling confident that the job will be done right.

This is your home, your money and your project. You deserve the best possible contractor. So before running out and hiring the first person who comes up in a Google search, here a few things to keep in mind.

Do your research
Get some contractor referrals from friends, family members, neighbors and local home improvement stores. Then get more information about those referrals on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask each candidate to provide their own references. Also, ask to see before and after pictures of their previous projects.

Confirm insurance and warranties
A proper contractor will carry liability insurance and be willing to stand behind their work with a warranty. This is where you get the confident feeling that was mentioned earlier. No worries about on-the-job injuries or something being faulty soon after the work is completed.

Get cost estimates
If you are new to the renovation game, a good way to determine your project’s approximate cost is to price out the materials. It’s not necessary to account for every penny, but if you have a good estimate, you can feel better about the final bill. As far as labor goes, keep in mind that a well-known contractor with great referrals and years of experience will cost more, but the quality of his work will likely be worth his hourly rate.

Set your expectations
You and your contractor should establish approximate start and completion dates for your project and nail down all of the details. This goes for the little things, like making sure the outlet you want in the hallway actually gets installed, as well as the big things, like confirming that your contractor and crew will handle the clean-up. That’s a big job you don’t want to be saddled with yourself, because renovations can get messy!

You don’t want to be a pest or a micromanager, but it’s important to touch base with your contractor regularly, especially if you’re not living in the home while the work is being done. This is the best way to keep mistakes to a minimum and make sure everything you asked for gets done.

Hopefully this advice will help you find the exact person who can turn your renovation dreams into reality. The process can seem daunting, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did it right!

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