8 Things You Should Know About Your Project Before Contracting a Contractor

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Contracting out a project for the first (or fifth) time can be a challenge. So, we’re partnering with the knowledgeable folks at Modernize to help your project go smoothly. Modernize works to connect homeowners with contractors every day, so they know exactly what it takes to find a perfect fit.

Chances are, if you own a home you’re going to want to make some upgrades in the future. Sometimes that means tackling DIY projects you can manage alone, and other times it means getting a professional to do what you can’t. But if you’re hiring a contractor to add a deck or convert a closet into a bathroom, you don’t want to go into the situation blind. Here’s what to consider before you get the process rolling.

Know Who You’re Hiring

You’re going to have questions before you hire someone, and your contractor better have good answers for you if they want the job. Likewise, you’re going to want to feel like you’re in good hands. Knowing these things should help make up your mind. For instance, how long has your potential contractor been in business? If they’ve been around for a few years they should have references you can check, as well as local suppliers who can tell you if they’re reputable. Make sure you search their company online to see what types of experiences people have had with your contractor. A history of good or bad reviews will help you get a sense of who you’re dealing with.

What should be included in a contractor bid for a home improvement project

The Ins and Outs of Your Bid

When you make a bid, you’ll want to know two things: Can they itemize your bid? And is your bid an estimate or a fixed price? An itemized bid will show you the costs of each step of the job. It’ll tell you where your budget it going. This is great because it will make it easier to compare prices with another contractor (you’ll want to do that as well) and it will give you the scope of your project. It’s fine if your contractor gives you a basic estimate off the bat as they’ll have to figure out how much the job will cost, but make sure you get a fixed price before you sign anything. This can prevent additional costs down the road.

Payment Plan

Once you know how much the project will cost, there will be stages in how you pay your contractor. Find out what you owe when and do this from the get go. Different contractors take different approaches when it comes to working out a payment schedule. Some may want half up front and half after the job is complete. Other times (usually for bigger projects) you’ll pay ten percent up front, then pay twenty five percentage over the course of three stages, with the final fifteen percent owed at completion. Some contractors may be flexible on this while others may not, but it’s important that you come to a system that you’re comfortable with.

A contractor should carry personal liability, worker

Types of Insurance

Should your contractor have personal liability, worker’s compensation, or property damage coverage? The answer is all three! You never know what’s going to happen on a project, but you do know that you want to be covered. Make sure you get copies of up-to-date insurance certificates; otherwise you could be held liable for possible damages or injuries that may occur.

Trust Your Gut

Don’t ignore your gut instinct—it exists for a reason. Intuition comes from patterns recognized from past experiences and can inform you when something feels off. Your instinct might kick in when dealing with a contractor and you may not know why. If that’s the case, consider the possibilities. Are they insured? Licensed? Are they avoiding questions? Red flags are much easier to identify in hindsight, but you don’t want to find out the hard way.

Like with any other big decisions in life, you’re going to want to do your homework before hiring a contractor. There’s a lot of them out there, and being comfortable with one you can trust goes a long way. The same goes for doing vetting them based on their resumes. A little research will go a long away, and after you’ve vetted the contractor right for you, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.

Ready to get started on your project? Find a Pro.

Plus, more on…

Project Planning: 4 Ways to Pay for Your Dream Project, Should You Add Insulation? Follow Our Decision Tree

A Healthy Home: 6 Tips for a Healthy Kitchen Remodel, Home Innovations: Mold Adverse Walls

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About Author

Peter Sawyer is a screenwriter and cinephile who enjoys DIY home and living hacks. Writing for Modernize gives him a platform to write about energy-efficient living in the home.

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