When we talk of home improvement contractors we are referring to people qualified to undertake the smaller tasks, like installing new flooring, cabinets and windows or maybe revamping the landscaping. They are not to be confused with general contractors who undertake the bigger jobs like adding on rooms or remodeling an existing property. The reason I stress the difference is because many people tend to hire a general contractor when a home improvement one will do well enough. Knowing the difference can be a money saver!
In order to avoid any confusion over when to hire home improvement contractors and when to hire general contractors, follow this simple rule of thumb: if your job is estimated to take over a week to complete; if the job requires several pros to complete and if your job will require application for a permit(s) then hire a general contractor. Simple once you know how! Don’t forget to use the word residential, that way you don’t waste time dealing with commercial or industrial specialists first before you find the right person.
What is important is that you find the right home improvement contractors who will do the job honestly and not cheat you. How do you go about finding them is the question and we have put together some guidelines to help you.
Recommendations are good: friends, family and the local registry where the home improvement contractors are registered for your area. Even the National Association of the Remodeling Industry; all of these are good starting points. You could even try the big hardware stores and the local lumberyard, they will be sure to recommend people who pay their bills on time indicating that they are trustworthy.
Screening: once you have your list in place, telephone them to find out whether they will undertake your job, not all of them take on small jobs and some of them may not be able to handle the bigger ones. Ask about previous clients who will give them a reference, what sort of projects they have on hand at the present time, are they bonded and insured, the subcontractors they work with who will provide testimony as to their payment history. The answers you get will tell you whether the contractor is available, efficient enough to handle your project and reliable enough to complete it successfully.
Meeting: once you have shortlisted 2-3 home improvement contractors have a face to face meeting and take a look at their paperwork. A meeting will help you assess the individual you may be dealing with. Does the manner they employ put you at ease? Are you able to communicate comfortably?
Investigate: after the meetings, you must have mentally selected one person that you jelled with out of all the home improvement contractors you met. Be wise and investigate choices one and two thoroughly. Check out references with clients and sub-contractors, check the state’s consumer protection agency and local Better Business Bureau for disputes; check out the actual sites where the home improvement contractors are presently working.
Then move on to getting bids, setting payment schedules and above all put everything you agree on in writing.