You’ve decided it’s time to redo your roof/paint your home/add an addition. You may have your own ideas on how the project should go – or you may have no idea how it should all go down. Either way, you need a good contractor that you can trust. Here is are several steps to follow while you’re hiring a contractor:
1. Do your research. Personal recommendations are great, but not everyone has the same standards as you or is working with the same price point. Be sure to look at the work executed by the contractor that your friend or neighbor recommends. Additionally, check online to make sure others had a similar good experience.
2. Look up their CCB Number. The Construction Contractor’s Board (CCB) is there to “protect the public’s interest relating to improvements to real property.” They regulate contractors, provide licensing, continuing education, dispute resolution, and even law enforcement. They are a great resource for you as a consumer. Just look up the contractor’s CCB # to understand their company history. If the contractor has no CCB#, say goodbye – no matter the price. You want someone who is properly licensed, carries the correct insurance, and is bonded.
3. Know what you’re getting into. Usually you can get a rough idea of the work that needs to happen – and discover the pitfalls – by doing your own independent research as well as talking to several different contractors about the same topic over the phone or in person.
It’s important to keep this conversation professional – don’t ask your friend’s brother in-law’s cousin what their thoughts are on roofing your house because they once worked a summer internship at a roofing company. A real professional will be able to tell you what needs to be done, give you some options when it comes to materials (unless you are looking for an exact match to something existing) and let you know what they might run into that would up the price or time the project takes. In roofing these can include: bad weather conditions, dry rot, or more extensive damage uncovered when the shingles are removed.
4. Interview your shortlist of contractors. Many contractors will give you a free estimate for the work you want done. Once they have met your criteria above, ask them to come out so they can look at your home, understand what is needed, and give you a written estimate. This will give you the opportunity to meet them and decide if their communication skills and level of professionalism meet with your expectations.
5. Review their estimate. Once you have met with your contractor, they should email/fax/mail you a written estimate with the work broken down, along with any warranties, and an estimated price. Once you have reviewed the bid, be sure it makes sense with your perception of the project and get any questions cleared up before you hire them. These may include the time frame of the project, projected start date, who will be handling any permits necessary, what type of payment they accept, and so on.
6. Make your decision. With all of the above, you should be comfortable with making an informed decision. If a particular contractor makes you nervous or you anticipate communication difficulties or conflict, they will likely be a wrong fit for you. Just remember that there is more to focus on than the price of a particular contractor’s work. If a more expensive bid is the contractor or company that you feel will do the job right the first time, within a realistic time frame, and will keep the communication flowing until the job is completed – they are likely the right option for you.
In the end, the right company or individual for the work on or around your home is the one that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Don’t settle for less.