Home Improvement: How to Hire a Home Contractor Without Getting Burned

hire a home contractor

 Imagine you’re getting ready to tackle a major home improvement project

You’ve got an idea of what changes you need made – but you aren’t sure whether or not you should handle those changes yourself. You could DIY it, but that would be time-consuming, and you’re not sure you want to commit to doing the job.

What you’d really like to do is hire a contractor to take care of it.

But you hesitate because you’ve heard too many horror stories of your friends getting burned by unreliable home contractors.

Maybe the contractor didn’t show up on time most days.

Maybe the contractor didn’t complete the job according to the timeline that was agreed upon.

Or maybe the contractor even made a massive mistake that ended up costing the homeowner even more money.

And that scares you.

I mean, you want to hire a home contractor to make your situation easier to manage – not to add to your stress.

Does that situation sound familiar?

If so, you should know that you can likely avoid getting screwed over by a contractor if you follow a few simple tips. Keep reading – I’m going to go over exactly what you need to do!

7 Tips to Help You a Home Contractor Without Getting Burned

1.     Know what you’re looking for.

Before you even think about interviewing a contractor, you need to make sure you know what you want.

Don’t worry – you don’t need an exact plan for your home improvement project. But you do need a general plan, so outline what you want done and the materials that will be needed.

You should be able to make your idea clear to the contractor so they can give you an accurate quote for the work.

2.     Weigh several options.

Don’t fall into the trap of hiring the first contractor you meet up with just because you like them or because they say they can get started quickly.

Remember, the contractor will likely be making changes to your home for a long time, so this isn’t a decision you should make on the fly. Plan to interview at least 3 contractors and carefully weigh your options.

And don’t be fooled by fancy advertising or charismatic contractors – keep the end goal in mind, and pick the person who is going to get the job done right the first time!

3.     Read online reviews.

The Internet makes it pretty easy to get the inside scoop on a contractor before you ever even talk to them.

Here are a few places you should look for reviews:

While review sites like these can be helpful, you’ll also want to ask for references before you hire a contractor. Check those references carefully, and ask questions to determine whether or not the contractor is someone you want to work with.

Tip: You don’t have to reply on the opinions of total strangers to make your decision about which home contractor to hire! Try to think of a friend or family member who may be able to recommend a local contractor for you.

4.     Pay attention to responsiveness.

Let’s face it – a contractor who lacks responsiveness before you’re paying him probably won’t be responsive after you hire him either.

So if you call a contractor to inquire about rates and they take 2 weeks to get back to you, it may be a good idea to look for home improvement help elsewhere.

Also, if you hold several contractor interviews and one of them fails to show up, it may be a good idea to pass on them. You want to be sure you’re hiring someone reliable, so if the contractor shows signs of unreliability early on, that’s a huge red flag.

5.     Hire an expert in what you need.

hire a home contractor

Sure, you could hire a “general contractor.” But wouldn’t you rather hire someone who is an expert in exactly what you need?

For example, if you want a kitchen remodel, you may want to hire a contractor who is known for gorgeous, on-time kitchen remodels. If you want to add on to your home, you may want to hire a contractor who specializes in home additions.

By choosing an expert over a generalist, you increase the chances that your home improvement project will turn out exactly the way you want it to.

6.     Draw up a contract.

Make sure the contract includes all the project details too.

Now, you may run into a situation where the contractor has their own contract. If that’s the case, be sure you look over every page and verify that the contract has all the necessary details. It should include things like:

  • Work required
  • Materials required
  • Cost

Of course, you may choose to change the scope of the home improvement project at some point during the process. If that happens, make sure you update the contract accordingly. And make sure you keep receipts for all the materials purchased too.

The point here is to keep a paper trail of everything that happens (or is supposed to happen) during the time the contractor is working for you. That way, if something goes wrong, you have solid documentation of what was expected.

Tip: Realize that your home improvement project may cost more than you expect, and budget for at least 10% more. Your contractor should give you an accurate estimate as best they can, but you have to keep in mind that they may run into roadblocks that change the cost and scope of the project.

7.     Communicate effectively.

When the project starts, make sure the contractor knows exactly what you’re expecting.

You should also lay down some ground rules. For example, let them know which bathroom they should use, clean-up rules, and what times they should expect to work in your home.

If you notice any issues occurring during the project, make sure you speak up and correct those issues right away. Speak up about potential issues too so you can make sure a small concern doesn’t turn into a massive problem.

And keep in touch with your contractor. If they’re handling a major home improvement project for you, you may want to check in with them on the status every day. That doesn’t mean you should micromanage them – it just means you should be communicative to prevent problems and keep them on track.

Looking to hire a home contractor for a home improvement project?

I understand – it can be scary to drop some serious cash on a home improvement project if you’ve never worked with a contractor before.

But I’m here to help!

If you’re in the Killeen, Ft. Hood, or Austin area and have questions about anything related to buying or selling a home, feel free to click here and reach out to me today!