What Should You Look For In A Contractor?
Renovation is a field with low barriers to entry. Anyone can pick up a hammer and claim to be a remodeler. Choose a contractor who has been around for a number of years and who has a substantial number of positive references. Ideally, the contractor should be affiliated with organizations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Home Builders Association of Grand Rapids (HBA). Awards from local or national organizations also speak well of a contractor’s experience and credibility.
Past successes are always an important factor in selecting a contractor. Determine if the contractor has completed any projects that are similar in scope to your planned renovation. Check out their portfolios and see if they can personally take you to view any similar completed projects first hand.
Timely, accurate answers from your contractor are the foundation of a successful project and a solid contractor-client relationship. If the contractor doesn’t communicate clearly and effectively from the outset, you are more likely to encounter frustrations - both emotional and financial - as the project continues.
Without a detailed, fixed-sum proposal there are no guarantees against budget overruns that could cost you greatly. Knowing exactly what the contractor is bidding on will help you determine if your concept matches up with the proposed work and limits the need for change orders for work that the contractor may claim was not included in their bid. We do not recommend “cost plus” contracts, as they leave little incentive for the contractor to remain within your budget.
Be certain that any contractor you choose to work with carries a General Liability insurance policy of at least $1 million. Confirm that they can offer Builders Risk insurance if necessary. Request a paper copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate for your records.
When making your final selection for a renovation contractor, be sure ask for a minimum of 5 references and do the legwork of checking them. A contractor without references is one to be avoided.
The work performed by the contractor is something you will have to live with for many years. Be certain that there are protections and remedies in place should something go wrong down the road. The contract should contain a warranty description that states clearly what is covered.
Without a strong commitment to a completion date, you could find yourself unable to return to your home when planned, which could cause you additional financial hardship as well as headaches in determining where to reside until the work is completed. A reputable contractor will provide you with a firm completion date.