Choosing a Contractor: Avoid These Traps

Sluggish home sales combined with reduced earning power in today’s economy mean we have to do more with less. Each year you may say to yourself, “Things are getting better; perhaps next year we will buy a bigger home or build a smaller one with all the things we have been thinking about.” These options may be impractical or out of reach. If this is the case, you may simply need an upgrade or room makeover to create house harmony.
Unless you are going to do the work yourself or already know a contractor, you will be on the lookout for someone to perform these upgrades. How do you choose a home contractor? As you embark on this important search, consider avoiding the following traps.
Trap #1: Don’t worry about licensing or insurance. We’re in the mountains and everyone is friendly and honest, we know that. Your neighbor is talented and competent, we know that. But what if you end up in that 5% group where something goes very wrong and now what you thought you wanted and said is a “misunderstanding” and your “contractor” leaves you with a botched job? My advice: make sure your contractor is licensed and insured.
Trap #2: We don’t need a written statement of work, a handshake will be fine. Similar to Trap #1, 90% of the time everything will turn out as you expected, but if you fall into the 10% where the “misunderstanding” rears its ugly head, you will have to accept what you get. My advice: Economics Construction Industry ask for a written scope of work with the details of work delivery, timing, and cost. Professional contractors consider this to be not only routine, but highly protective on their end as well. If you encounter a contractor who thinks an agreement is extra, I’d be concerned.
Trap #3: Pick the first guy or gal you come to in the phone book. Phone book? Do we still have phone books? My advice: wherever you look – internet, newspaper, yellow pages – do your research. Why not get the best work possible? Although it’s more time consuming, I also suggest that you obtain referrals from prospective contractors. Although some of these referrals may not be impartial, they will usually be honest about the contractor’s strengths and weaknesses. You can also check Angie’s List, a vetted review of contractors online.
Trap #4: Expect the best without communication. Once you have the scope of work and you’ve told the contractor what you want, that should be it, right? Wrong. Advice: you cannot communicate enough. You should be checking in on things often, and providing frequent feedback. Even with a scope of work, you could get to the end of the project and suddenly realize that it’s not what you wanted.
Trap #5: You don’t have to like your contractor to get a good job. Why should personality have anything to do with accomplishing upgrades in your home? If they’re good, they’re good; you are not paying them for their personality. Advice: Your contractor can be licensed, insured, How To Become A Building Contractor have 25 years of experience, but if you don’t get along with this person, the job is not going to go well. This rubs both ways. If you don’t respect and like your contractor, they are not likely to respect and like you either. Communication, and workmanship, will suffer.
Avoid these traps and your home contracting experience will go much more smoothly.