Unless you’re an extreme DIY-er, there will probably come a time when you need to hire a home improvement professional. Whether you want to have your entire house redone or just need some touch-ups, you’ll want to make sure that anyone you hire for the job is definitely the right person. Before you sign a contract or hand over any money, make sure you do the following to hire a good home improvement professional:
Ask for recommendations. Family, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances can be a great source of information on the quality of a home improvement professional. You can also look online for reviews of a professional and his/her services. A good subcontractor will be easy to contact, ready and willing to answer questions, and know how to connect with general contractors and other subcontractors in the area. Ask for customer testimonials, samples of the professional’s past work, and contracts you can read through in advance.
Shop around. Remember that you get what you pay for — sometimes the cheapest option is not the best. On the flip side, you don’t necessarily have to pay a mint to find a quality contractor or subcontractor. Plan ahead and give yourself time to find the right home improvement professional at a good price. If you’re unsure what a good price is for your particular project, do some research online and ask for a cost breakdown for your project.
Make sure your professional is fully licensed and credentialed. Most subcontractors, such as electricians and plumbers, need to be licensed according to state and local laws. Their license information should be either on display in the office or readily available when you ask. You should also look for professionals who are certified or recognized in their field — look for membership in groups such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or the National Association of Home Builders as well as professional niche associations (plumbing, electrical, home design, etc.).
Don’t hire an uninsured contractor. Insurance protects you and it protects them in case of any unforeseen disaster or problem. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of insurance or have it written into your contract.
Be honest about your budget. The last thing you want is to have to bail on a home improvement project halfway through or go into debt to finish it. Know what you’re able to pay before you sign any contract and make sure that your contractor knows as well. Make sure that your professional respects your limits and will not make financial decisions on a project without your input and approval.
Make sure anyone you hire is easy to contact and communicate with. You should be in touch with a lead person on any large project and be able to ask them questions and contact them as needed (during business hours). A contractor or subcontractor that doesn’t communicate or is hard to get in touch with may make your project harder to complete on time and within budget.
Do your due diligence before signing a contract. Make sure you read a contract in full and are completely happy with the terms. Check with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce to make sure there are no complaints against the contractor or the company itself.
Ask if the professional offers a warranty. If anything about your home improvement project fails or breaks after completion, you need to know how to fix it. Not all home improvement professionals offer warranties on their work, but remember that it may be worth paying a little extra for the warranty.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Scaffold Store, the favorite and trusted scaffold supplier of the largest contractors.