If there is one element that is key to your renovation (other than budget) it’s hiring the right team for the job. If you’ve never embarked on a major home improvement project that requires the need for a contractor, finding one can be one of the more stressful parts of the journey. They are, afterall, going to be the expert upon whose knowledge and experience you lean. You want to be able to trust them to not only do the job well, but at a price that is fair and has your best interests in mind. When it comes time to hunt, here’s our best advice to finding the right person for the job.
Perhaps the most vital soft-skill in this industry is communication. How they communicate with you not just in tone and manner, but in delivering options and present problems as well as possible solutions. Problems will arise from certain materials no longer being available, to unforeseen issues such as hidden damage to your house, or even the accident of dropping granite on your wood floors. When you interview your prospective contractors, be alert and aware of how they handle you, your budget, your concerns, and your vision. If for any reason you feel you can’t trust this person, go with your gut.
The first avenue to explore is recommendations. Social media has done a lot for us in terms of research resources. Throw out a blast online to see who will respond and what they have to say. If you have close friends or neighbors who’ve been through the renovation wringer, even better. You probably noticed the neighbors house and how long it took, how clean/messy the site was kept, and they will undoubtedly spill all the tea for you if you ask. Going to sites like Home Advisor or Angie’s List is another possibility, but you never know if someone is being objectively honest, or had one bad day that spoiled the bunch. Close friends, however, will be able to level with you.
If you do end up having to rely on internet reviews, be sure to pay attention to a few things: How many stars compared to how many reviews are left. A five-star rating looks great until you realize it’s only one person’s experience. What are the positive and negative things being said in these reviews? Are there consistencies between reviews; is the same problem being stated over and over or is it a one-off? It’s going to take some time and effort, but it will also help you winnow the field from large to small when it comes time to interview. In addition to reading reviews online, ask your potential candidates if you can visit any previous job sites.
Lastly, when you finally have your candidates selected and set up a consultation, be prepared with questions. Not just, how would you handle this project, but question about insurance, subcontractors, start and end times, foremans, etc. You want to know how they operate as well as how they will handle your specific needs. In the end, the more prepared you are with questions, the more capable they’ll be to provide you with all the information you need to make the best choice.