Find a Good Contractor

Tips for Selecting a Good Contractor

When the job is too big or too complicated to do on your own, you have to call in the experts. But finding someone to work on your home can be stressful. To help alleviate some stress, MidCountry Bank has compiled a few helpful tips for finding a good contractor for remodeling or renovations.

How to Select a Good Contractor Reputation

It's always a good idea to ask friends, family, and neighbors who they have used to work on their house. Regardless of where you find a contractor, make sure the person you hire has experience with the exact job that you need to complete.

It's also a good idea to hire a local contractor. When researching the contractor, find out if the company has been in business locally under the same name for at least five years. While it's true that you can probably find quality contractors who are just starting out, the longer a company has been successfully in business, the better their work likely is.

Consider how you heard about your contractor prospect. If they show up at your doorstep with a "limited time offer," be cautious. Never jump into a good deal without the necessary time to complete due diligence. What professional associations does the contractor belong to? Many associations pride themselves on having members who produce quality workmanship.

One reputable association is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

In fact, this association may be a good source for locating possible contractors in the first place. Call around to local associations to learn about their reputations and craftsmanship. You can also call the Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce.

Does the contractor farm out the work to a subcontractor or do all the work him or herself? The contractor you hire may have a wonderful reputation, but if a subcontractor is the one doing the actual work, the contractor's skills don't much matter. As it can be difficult to research the professionalism of subcontractors, you may want to avoid them if possible.

References

Always check at least three references. In addition to paying your contractor of choice hundreds or even thousands of dollars for this project, you will also, in many cases, be trusting this person or group of persons in your home. If possible, go to past work sites and look at the finished job.

Ask the previous clients questions like:

  • Did they stay within budget?
  • Did they finish the job on time?
  • Were they professional?
  • Were they clean while they worked?
  • Was the job completed to your satisfaction?
  • Did they provide recommendations or expertise that lead to a better quality of lower price than expected?
  • How has their work held up?

The Estimate

When you review your estimate, make sure that it is as detailed as possible and includes materials. Tell the contractor, up front, exactly what you want done and approximately what you expect to spend. A good contractor can tell you at that time if they can meet your expectations or provide recommendations to help you meet your expectations.

At the end of the job, you should be able to reference against the estimate for every line item.

When it comes to the estimate, be weary of any "special deals," and never work with anyone who attempts to bully you or make you feel uncomfortable in any way.

Research

It helps to know a little about what the contractor is doing. You don't need to be an expert plumber, but some online research will provide the basics so that you know if what they are doing and charging you for makes sense.

Licensing

Contact your state and find out what the license and bonds requirements are for your area. You can also call your local municipality and ask about license, bonds, permits, and insurance requirements. Then, of course, verify that your contractor meets all of the requirements. If the contractor is not insured, licensed or bonded, this should immediately raise a red flag.

To begin, try this link:

Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry

Insurance

Always ask to see their insurance certificates. A contractor should, at the very least, have

General Liability insurance. Contracting with someone with Workman's Compensation and

General Liability is better.

When it comes down to it, it's all about your gut feeling. Be as open and clear about your expectations in the beginning and never be afraid to question what your contractor is doing. A good contractor will be happy to take the time to explain exactly what they are doing to your home.

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