That is so exciting! You finally decided to renovate your kitchen or have just bought a house and want to make it all yours. But to be totally honest, the really hard work is just about to start now.
One of the most important question you should ask yourself is: Which contractor should I hire?
If you are just changing the cabinetry in your kitchen, you probably don’t need a contractor, but as soon as you want to open up walls, relocate electrical, HVAC or plumbing, you better start looking for a really good one to work with.
This is your home you want to improve that is why you need somebody who respects your property AND money. Nobody wants to be in the middle of the renovation process realizing that the contractor is nowhere to find, took all your money and your house is still a construction site! NIGHTMARE!
You usually spend a lot of money during this project and with this 9 steps about finding the right contractor, your dream of a renovation won’t become a nightmare:
1. Be sure what you want
Before you can even think about calling a contractor, make sure that you know what you want and that you have enough money to realize that!
Be honest about your budget and calculate with some room to play with. Remember, most renovations cost more than first estimated.
If you are not sure if your calculated budget is enough, go and take a look at houzz.com. On this platform you can take a look at different projects and how much they did cost.
2. Get some names
Now is the time to ask friends, family and neighbours if they can recommend some contractors. In the best case, they had a renovation in the past as well and are really satisfied with the contractor they hired. You should also check on google, houzz, yelp etc to find some potential contractors.
IMPORTANT: Never ever hire family, friends or neighbours directly! The chance that this project ruins your relationship is too high. Ask them to support you or ask them for their opinion about the work of the contractor you hired. This makes them feel more important and you get a second opinion during the whole process of your renovation. Separating business and private is always the better choice.
3. Hire an Home Inspector
Let a Home Inspector come to your house and check if everything is up to code or if something needs to be fixed. You are already doing a renovation, why not do it right? In this way, you already get a heads up, don’t get surprised by unexpected expenses and you can ask the contractor to handle these points right away, too.
You found more than 10 different contractor with awesome reviews, what now? Call them all, but don’t hire one right away!
Here is a list of some questions you should ask them on the phone:
Do you take on projects like mine?
Can you give me a list of references or/and a list of previous clients?
How long are you in Business?
When could you start on my project?
Answers you don’t want to hear:
I take on everything and we can start right away
(good contractors need to be booked at least two to four months ahead, if they are not good in what they do, they don’t have many projects lined up and that is why they can ‘squeeze’ you in right away)
Sorry, I can’t give you a list of previous clients, they don’t want to be visited/talked to.
(yeah, sure. Every contractor should be able to show you past projects! The reason why they don’t want you to talk to previous clients is because they screwed up their reno but don’t want you to know. Best thing to do here is saying ‘thank you’ and hang up.)
Oh I just started the business, but now worries, I know what I do.
(He should at least have some experience with a previous employer. If he can’t tell you anything about his past, hang up!)
5. Meet them in person
You should have 3-4 contractors, who sound good so far. Set an appointment with them to meet at your place to be able to explain in detail what you want to have done and that they will be able to create a quote. This meeting is also a good way to down select more! Trust your guts, the first impression is very important! You will have to work with them for many weeks, for that it really helps, if you get along and that you like him/her.
During the meeting you also can ask questions like:
Do you have a license?
Who pays medical bills if a worker gets injured?
What happens if you damage any of my possessions?
What time does your crew usually start to work?
Are you going to apply for a permit?
How long will it take?
Will you give me a warranty?
Payment schedule and how do I pay you?
Ask them to create a quote for you with a detailed listing of material and labour costs. That can take 2-4 weeks, so don’t freak out if you don’t hear back from them the next day.
6. You received quotes
Now it is getting real! 🙂
There are some quotes on your table, but what to do with them? Check the prices but also check the listed items on the quote. You will see that the amount of details will vary between the quotes and so will the prices. It can be confusing but be patient and go through all of them and try to understand what you will paying for. If something doesn’t make sense at all, don’t hesitate to call the contractor and ask him whatever you want and need to know. It is their job to answer these questions! Keep always in mind that they want to be hired to earn money, so let them work for it. In a nice and a respectful way, of course.
Which one should you pick now? Again, trust your guts. Basically, you should go neither with the lowest nor the highest price, there is something off in the most cases. Take one of the middle field, as long as the quote covers everything you want, is still in your budget and you feel good about the contractor.
7. Hire your favourite
Congratulation, you just hired a contractor! Well, almost. Don’t rely on the good word of your favourite pick, that he will show up on time, will stick to the budget, will finish your project and actually does what you talked about. Sign a contract together with him, in this way you both are safe and you know what to expect. For example a starting and ending date.
8. Let’s get started
So exitiiiiing! Demo is about to start and step by step your future home becomes real, and stressful. Try to relax as much as possible and keep on top of everything. Talk to your contractor at least two times a week, better would be daily, and ask him what happened so far and what the next steps are. Ask him about everything you don’t totally understand, to stay informed helps you throughout the whole process.
You survived a renovation! You made it! Welcome to your new favourite place 🙂
Even if there are small touch ups, which still need to be done, don’t worry too much about it, that is totally normal and will get fixed. It was a tough process, but absolutely worth it, right? So just relax now and enjoy all the hard work (and money) you put into this renovation, you earned it!