How to Find a Good Contractor

Any bathroom renovation project comes with a million questions that require informed answers […]

The Questions to Ask

Any bathroom renovation project comes with a million questions that require informed answers. However, no question is more fundamentally important than “Who is your contractor? While each project, client and contractor is different, we’ve put together some basic questions that will help guide you towards making the best choice.

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How do I find a contractor?

This is the first question to ask when starting your research. It begins by looking for personal referrals – start by asking family and friends if they have a contractor they trust. From there, expand your search to include professionals you’ve worked with before, such as real estate agents or architects. If you’re still lacking candidates, look for someone in your neighborhood who is in the process of renovating their house. Doing this due diligence within your own networks should always come before any online research – word of mouth recommendations will put you at ease and put pressure on your contractor in a way that Internet listings will not. 

How should I approach online research?

In recent years, online information has proven to be more accountable, but it is still best to start with objective organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, that offer an unbiased reference point to start building your list of candidates. Next, look for websites that have peer reviews and objective client feedback that has not been filtered by the contractor.

What should I ask a potential contractor?

By now, you’ve found some potential candidates – it is recommended that you have at least three candidates in order to make a proper comparison. You’ll want to start with the basics: ask for their portfolio, references, license and photos of previous jobs. Ask the contractor what size project and budget they normally work on to see if they’re a good fit with you. Ask how many projects they are currently working on to get an idea of how much attention they’ll be able to pay to yours.  

What are the red flags to look for?

If you’ve chosen wisely, you shouldn’t see too many of these red flags, but it is very helpful to know what to look out for. Many causes for concern, unsurprisingly, revolve around payment. If the contractor asks for a cash down payment, or one that is more than 1/3 of the total, you should be concerned. If they offer you a discount to hire them immediately, or if they give you a quote before fully examining the scope of work, you should be concerned. If they ask you to handle tasks such as the acquisition of permits, you should watch out. And if you have trouble reaching them – for example, if they won’t meet in person or they don’t have a clear office address, you should run for the hills.

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How do I determine the contract?

The general rule with contracts is to get absolutely everything in writing. Get detailed, itemized estimates of the work, costs and materials, as well all the bonding and insurance information and a list of all subcontractors. There are different ways to structure the payment schedule, but make sure that a substantial amount hinges on your inspection of the final work. Not only will this approach help to make the project roll smoothly; but also if anything does go wrong between you and your contractor, you’ll have the legal foundation to pursue the manner successfully.

While there are a lot of factors to consider, it is certainly worth the effort to take the time to find a contractor that truly fits your needs. With the right collaborator, you’ll be able to finish your renovation project on deadline and within your budget so that you can move forward with a wonderful new space!