Imagining what your home will look like after a renovation is so exciting and can be fun. Considering your floors will be torn out, walls being knocked down and possibly relocating while the work is being completed: not so much.
As overwhelming as all this may seem, nothing is trickier than finding the right contractor to do the job. There are countless negative encounters with contractors that you hear about in your daily life: Lengthy delays, contracts being abandoned, and homes left unfinished. I was talking with a friend and client that had went thought this and it’s so frustrating Anita A. in California asked me for suggestions and this is the reason for this blog post.
Once you have found the right contractor, you are not out of the woods yet. Unexpected costs are the norm, not the exception, especially with older homes. You never know what they will find, anything from mold and asbestos, to problematic wiring, all resulting in missed deadlines.
Following my 5 tips and it will help ensure a positive, stress-free experience:
- Find the right type of contractor
Whether you are starting on a large or small project, complicated or simple, there are a few different types of contractors you can pick from. Make sure you choose wisely, as it could drastically affect your bottom line.
If you’re looking for someone to install new cabinetry, fixtures or any other specific products, a specialty contractor is your best option. If you’re planning on additions or major renovations involving structural changes, an architect is usually the best choice. There is also design/build contractors who can assist you on the creative side as well. If you opt for a general contractor make sure they provide a detailed plan on what they will be doing themselves and what they will be outsourcing so you can control costs.
- Finding the right person for the job
The best source is word of mouth. Reach out to me Rafael Sanz or friends, family members and colleagues who have recently used a contractor for referrals. Employees at local hardware stores deal with contractors on a regular basis and can prove to be a useful resource as well. Search for reviews online from reputable websites. If you google the contractor’s name and words like ‘scam’ and ‘rip off’ automatically populate the search, stay clear!
- Bidding time
At this point, you should have an exact idea of what you want to be renovated and how. When requesting quotes, make sure you specify the same material brands and quality to all bidders. Try to get as many bids as possible, keeping in mind that the industry standard is 3 bids at the very minimum. Don’t base your decision solely on price, go with your gut feeling, don’t forget; you have to be around this person and his help for a few months.
- Arrange a good payment plan
Never pay more than 10% up front, and the last thing you want is your money going towards loose ends on your contractor’s last job. You can also contact your local consumer agency, some states limit how much a contractor can take as a down payment.
It’s also important to include contingency clauses in your contract. Create defined stages in your project and forward a predetermined payment amount only after the given stage is completed and be sure the supply’s are delivered.
- Final payment
Contractors tend to move on to the next job before they are finished. Even if your project looks finished, there are many little details you should ensure they are complete before forwarding your final payment.
Be cautious before signing an affidavit of the final release. Ask for copies of all receipts and lien releases from all their subcontractors. If your contractor fails to pay a subcontractor or supplier, in most states they have the ability to put a lien on your house.