Choosing a contractor is like hiring a new employee. You always follow a process and consider beyond the first candidate.
Make a list of prospects.
First things first, create a shortlist of 10 to 15 contractors who have the expertise you’re looking for. You can look in many places for this – social media, consumer review websites, or your own friends, family members, coworkers, etc.
Compare portfolios of different contractors.
Contractors can be generalists, but always choose a specialist, especially one whose creativity stands out. Ask for a portfolio from every contractor you’ve shortlisted, and make sure it contains at least ten projects finished over the last year. There should be pictures of each space before, during and after project completion.
Ask if they are licensed and certified.
Home improvement contractors can hold varying licenses or certifications, depending on what types of projects they handle. Legal requirements also vary by state, so make sure you call your area’s licensing office to know what exactly you should look for. Of course, the contractor and the entire team should be covered by liability and liability insurance, and make sure to request for a copy of their policies so you can check if they’re up to date.
Any reputable contractor will have no qualms providing client references with all the contact details you need. Certainly, you need to talk to every one of them and take down notes during the conversation.
Check out one finished project.
Once you’ve talked to references and crossed out those who received poor reviews, choose one of the remaining references that you’d like to visit so you can go over and see the finished project in person. Clearly, you have to get their permission in advance instead of just showing up at their door and putting them on the spot. It’s smart to visit an older project so you can see how it looks after all that time.
Finally, after consulting with each of the contractors you’re considering, have them submit a brief proposal and quote. This should include a project timeline, the types of materials they plan to use, and the project’s overall cost. When reviewing the bids, keep in mind that the cheapest isn’t automatically the best. The materials or amount of labor can vary for different contractors. For instance, someone may use prefabricated cabinets and charge lower than a woodworker who actually makes the cabinets with his own hands, but certainly, there will be a significant difference in your kitchen’s final look and vibe. Make a list of your overall goals for the project and choose the contractor who appears to be most suitable.