Tips for hiring a home contractor for your remodelling project
Since buying our house four years ago, it has felt like my husband and I are always in the middle of a home renovation project. Whether it’s updating our master bathroom, painting every wall in the house or installing a new dishwasher, there’s no end to the home improvements we want to make.
We’re pretty handy, so we can tackle the little projects, no problem. But for the bigger projects such as a full kitchen reno or full bathroom reno, we decided to call in a pro. As much as we’d love to take that on ourselves, there’s a good chance a DIY kitchen reno would turn into a nightmare and /or a few days in the hospital. So we decided that hiring a professional contractor was the way to go.
Finding a professional contractor we trust was no easy feat. While most of them seamed like perfectly nice people – only one gave us a bad feeling – there were so many things to consider, like cost, experience, whether they subcontract their work, etc.
After a few months to consider of searching, we finally found “the one” , and we’re excited to get our renovation started. If you’re planning your next home improvement project, big or small, here are a few tips we learned on our search that can help you find the right contractor:
- Start with recommendations. We started out using online resources, but wound up finding our contractor through my husband’s boss. Do yourself a favour: before you hop online, ask your friends, family and neighbours for their recommendations. While you might find a perfectly good contractor online, there’s something to be said for word-of-mouth endorsement. Your friend or family member likely wouldn’t recommend the person if they had a bad experience. As an added bonus, you can go to their home and see the contractor’s handy work for yourself, even before you call.
- Use online tools wisely. Websites like 1300ALLTRADES.com.au , SERVICE.com.au and HIPAGES.com.au can be great tools for finding the right contractor, if you use them right. In the case of my kitchen remodelling contractor, I found these tools to be most useful for doing research AFTER I had a few recommendations from friends and family. Before I ever called the contractors, I went online and researched their customer reviews. If they didn’t have any, they weren’t necessarily out of the running, but those who did have a positive online reviews were bumped to the top of the list.
If you’re using a website to find your contractor, look not only at the rating but also at the number of reviews. For me, if a person had a five-star rating but two reviews, that meant less than someone with 50 reviews and four stars. Look also for themes in the review. Was the work great, but the clean-up sloppy? Did the contractor do good work, but disappear for a few days in the middle of the job? Common themes in reviews paint a clean picture than a couple of bad reviews.
- Ask a million questions. Your contractor is a business partner, of sorts. You should feel comfortable asking questions, and they should feel comfortable answering them. Ask about financials- do they have the cash on hand to purchase materials they’ll need and bill you later, or do you need to buy them up front ? Do their jobs ever go over budget and, if so, by how much on average?
Also, ask about how they’ll go about doing their work. Does the contractor subcontract work, or do they do it themselves? How many other jobs will they have going on while they’re working on yours? Do they only use licensed subcontractors and insured labourers ? Will they submit DA approval’s and request permits ?
Be sure to check with your state’s licensing board to verify that the contractor is licensed, and ask them for proof of insurance ( including liability) . Ask for names of subcontractors and do the same with them, too.
- Get multiple quotes. Even if the first contractor you meet seems like the right fit, do yourself a favour and get multiple quotes. Ask each contractor to prepare an itemized quote that includes the cost of materials, labour and other expenses. That way, if you decide not to do a certain part of the job – install a new floor, for example – you’ll know how much your price should come down. You’ll be able to tell if one contractor is overcharging you a lot for a specific part of the project. You can then either ask that contractor to come down in price, or remove them from the shortlist .
Depending on the availability of contractors in your area, finding the right renovations contractor for your home or investment property can take a few weeks or a few months depending on the size and necessary DA approvals needed . It could be as small as a new bathroom or kitchen refit or as large as an extension or rebuild of an entire house . Once you decide on one , make sure to get a contract in writing, and follow up with your homeowners’ insurance company to make sure you have enough coverage.
Once you have the plan to renovate or remodel your house or apartment , discuss with an eFinance Home Loans Broker of the funding options available CLICK HERE and you’ll be ready to start turning your house or apartment into a dream home .