Finding the right general contractor in Charlotte for your next remodeling or renovation project is the key to success. When you finally hire a contractor, you should be completely confident in the decision you’ve made.
The following guide works as a checklist on what you should do before hiring a contractor.
How to Hire the Right Contractor
Before you even consider hiring a contractor for your remodel or renovation, there are a number of important steps that should be taken to ensure that you make a fully informed decision.
1. OBTAIN MULTIPLE ESTIMATES
The initial step in the hiring process involves requesting multiple estimates from different contractors, after which you can compare the results. The recommended number of estimates to obtain before a job is around 3-4. If one of the estimates you receive is considerably higher than the other three, it’s likely that the contractor with the higher estimate is attempting to get more money for the job than it’s worth.
It’s also important that you don’t automatically choose the contractor with the lowest estimate. They may provide the lowest estimate because they don’t have the proper licensure or adequate experience. When comparing multiple estimates, take some time to look at the estimated project timelines, building materials, and work methods. Only through considering all of the details can you make an informed decision.
2. SEEK OUT LOCAL CONTRACTORS
Regardless of the project size, it’s essential that you hire local contractors for the job. If an issue occurs after the project has been completed, it’s important that your contractor can provide the necessary fix without delay.
Local contractors are also considerably more likely to understand the building codes for your specific area, which is necessary if you want to avoid a costly code violation. Make sure that the contractor you hire provides you with a local address.
3. ENSURE ALL DETAILS ARE IN WRITING
Many people make the mistake of selecting the best estimate and rushing through the rest of the process. However, you should make sure to sign a contractual agreement with your chosen contractor. Be sure to read the fine print of the contract before signing it and save a copy for your records.
Before any work is completed on your remodel or renovation project, make sure that you get every detail about the project in writing. The contract itself should be clear and easy to understand. If the project costs a substantial sum of money, consider having a lawyer look over the contract for added protection.
Some elements that should be in every contract include:
- A payment schedule
- A detailed description of any work that’s set to be done alongside pricing
- Estimated start and completion dates
- Potential guarantee as well as a time limit for the guarantee
- Signatures from each party
The final and possibly most important step in this checklist involves keeping a file of all the documents related to the project. These documents include a copy of the contract, bills and invoices, building plans, specifications, certificates of insurance, and canceled checks.
4. CHECK PREVIOUS WORK
Unless you’re hiring a company that’s just received their contractor license, every contractor you consider should have previous work that you can check out before you make your decision.
Look for the quality of their work and read reviews to check their customer service. The Better Business Bureau can give you invaluable information about the contractor’s reputation and experience.
5. CHECK FOR INSURANCE
It’s important that the contractor you hire has the necessary insurance. Request a certificate of insurance before signing any contract. You should then call the contractor’s insurance company to verify this coverage.
If a contractor isn’t insured, you could be liable for any accident that occurs on your property while the construction work is being completed.
6. DON'T PAY EVERYTHING BEFORE WORK BEGINS
Only a portion of the total project costs should be paid at the beginning of the project. It’s also essential that you pay with a check and that the check is made out to a company as opposed to an individual.
In the event that the project is larger in scope, your initial payment should be around one-third of the total project costs. If your project costs $10,000 expect to pay around $3,000 upfront; if your project costs $100,000 expect to pay around $25,000 upfront.
7. UNDERSTAND THAT DELAYS CAN HAPPEN
No matter how experienced and reputable a contractor is, unexpected delays can always happen. Even if a project timeline was agreed upon before the contract was signed, there are factors outside of the contractor’s control.
For example, the shipment of materials can be delayed, or unexpected issues may be uncovered while the work is underway. Understanding that these situations can happen upfront can be helpful in managing the stress associated with additional costs and delays.
Keeping an open line of communication with your contractor throughout the project is essential in managing these curveballs.