Hiring a contractor is like bringing in a new employee. You usually go by a process and you don’t go with the first candidate you encounter.
Make a shortlist.
First off, make a list of 10 to 15 contractors who are experts in your planned project. There are many ways to find prospects – ask friends and relatives, read online reviews, use social media, etc.
You will find lots of generalists, but don’t settle for anyone less than a specialist, especially one with a creative eye. Ask for a portfolio from every contractor you’ve shortlisted, and make sure it contains at least ten projects finished over the last year. There must be an image provided for each space at each stage of the project (before, during and after).
Ask about licensing and certification.
There are different types of licenses and certifications that home improvement contractors hold, depending on the projects they’re involved in. Requirements may also vary from one state to another, so call your local licensing office know the details before you proceed. Of course, everyone working on your project should be covered by liability and workers compensation insurance, and don’t forget to ask for a copy of their policies to make sure they’re valid.
A good contractor will be eager to provide client references with all necessary contact information. Certainly, you need to talk to every one of them and take down notes during the conversation.
Take a look at one completed project.
After calling the references and narrowing down your list, decide which of those that are left you’d like to visit so you can personally inspect the contractor’s work. Clearly, you have to get their permission in advance instead of just showing up at their door and putting them on the spot. Choose a project that was done a few years ago so you can see how it held up.
Finally, after thorough consultations with each contractor, ask for a proposal and quote. This should include a project timeline, the types of materials they plan to use, and the project’s overall cost. When reviewing the bids, keep in mind that the cheapest isn’t automatically the best. The materials or amount of labor can vary for 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. Define your overall goals for your renovation and use them as your basis for choosing a contractor.