Start with your friends and family and then check in with your local community Facebook, or ‘Next-door Neighborhood’ for referrals.
Do Phone Interviews
Make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:
- Are you a licensed contractor?
- Do they take on projects of your size?
- Can they give you a referral of previous clients?
- How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
- Do they have Certificate of Insurance?
The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability & reliability.
Meet Face to Face
Based on the phone interviews, pick two to three contractors to meet with for estimates. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily & puts you at ease. It’s crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check with Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.
Make Plans, Get Bids
You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it’s time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A conscientious contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints/plans, but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend.
Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide
A contractor who throws out a lowball bid is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work —hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he or she communicates. All things being equal, it’s better to spend more and get someone you’re comfortable with.
Finally, remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer. The four most expensive words in the English language? “While you’re at it….”