Renovating Your Home: 5 Characteristics to Look for in a Contractor
Updated: Feb 8
The rise of video tutorials and DIY pages created by both experts and hobbyists has given homeowners the confidence to do do-it-yourself home improvements themselves. After all, it has always been said that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. However, a lot of homeowners who are willing to devote time to DIY work end up not being ready for the stress and frustrations that home remodeling and renovation can bring.
While DIY projects certainly have a lot of benefits, including the ability to customize parts of a home, homeowners may not have the right knowledge and expertise to bring them to fruition. Not everyone is well-equipped to deal with the toll of physical work on the body and commit time to these DIY projects. In addition, you may not have the right tools and equipment to do the job safely.
In general, doing some home improvement or repair projects by yourself is not a good idea. There are simply too many things that can go wrong especially when you just follow tutorials blindly. While you may save a hefty amount of money, any mistake can potentially result in higher repair expenses. Some jobs can and should only be tackled by actual home improvement contractors.
Understandably, you may not be as keen about letting a complete stranger into your home. After all, your home is likely your most significant investment. You don’t want to let an unqualified contractor work on your home and damage your property. So before you hire any contractor, look for the following characteristics that make a reliable home improvement professional.
1. Properly licensed and certified
The government regulates home improvement jobs. Many states require contractors who work on home renovations and repair to have the appropriate licenses and certifications before they can work. These regulations serve as a protection for property owners by ensuring that only those that have the necessary knowledge and expertise get to perform the jobs.
If a contractor has the appropriate license and certifications, it is a good indicator of their qualification. So if you are planning to hire a home improvement contractor, ask for their license number and verify it using your state’s license lookup website.
That said, no one is stopping you from hiring a contractor without a license. It is just that you will not be afforded the protections given by the law should any untoward incident happen during the job.
2. Possesses a solid reputation
Regardless of what industry they belong to, a company’s reputation is everything. The things that are written on the company’s website and advertisements don’t matter if what their previous clients are saying about the company is the complete opposite. For the construction and home improvement industry, it is even more important to look for a contractor that has a solid reputation and is well-recommended by their previous clients.
Fortunately, it can be quite easy these days to find out what others are saying about a particular company. A good home improvement contractor should have a lot of positive reviews from their previous clients that you can read on review aggregator sites like Yelp. If some previous clients are unsatisfied with their work, you may find complaints lodged against the company through the Better Business Bureau. Your friends, neighbors, and colleagues may have hired local home improvement contractors, which also makes them great sources in your search.
Do take note that online reviews and personal recommendations should not be the sole basis of your decision. Some reviews may be paid for and manipulated by companies. At the same time, some previous clients may not be as truthful as they claim to be. Always be wary of what you read on the internet.
3. Provides a detailed cost breakdown
The initial stages of a home improvement project involve inviting a potential contractor to inspect the home, and then they provide you with a quote. You can use this opportunity to judge how trustworthy the contractor is by taking a look at the estimate they provide. Unfortunately, many home improvement companies deliberately provide a low initial estimate to encourage clients to proceed with a project. When the time to pay comes, they end up getting surprised with additional charges.
When considering a contractor’s quote, take a look at how detailed they break down the t costs. A reliable contractor will be able to give a quote that is close to the final cost of materials and labor needed by the project. Ideally, the quote should be itemized per stage of the project for easier understanding. The contractor should also be clear with their payment terms to avoid any issue that may result in them filing a lien on your property.
4. Respects the client’s time
If you are a busy person, setting up an appointment can be quite difficult. You can only devote a specific hour to the initial inquiry or the home inspection. Respect for clients’ time is one of the hallmarks of a reliable home improvement contractor. When both of you agree on the schedule, they will be punctual.
Punctuality is a good indicator of a home improvement contractor’s discipline and work ethic. If any unavoidable circumstance results in them arriving late or earlier than what you have agreed on, they will contact you immediately to inform you.
5. Communicates information clearly
One of the challenges that homeowners may possibly face when hiring a home improvement contractor is dealing with poor communication. Remodeling and repair projects take time and involve a back and forth between you and the contractor to talk about what needs to be done. Any misunderstanding can result in mistakes that need to be fixed, leading to further delays and more expenses.
During the initial contact with the contractor, observe your verbal and written interactions. Ideally, you want to hire a contractor who returns messages in a timely manner and is attentive to what you are trying to say and proactive in giving you the information that you need.
Whether you simply want to repair parts of your home or remodel them entirely, a reliable home improvement contractor can turn your vision into reality. Use the characteristics outlined above as your criteria to ensure that only a qualified and trustworthy contractor can work on your home.
About the Author:
Kevin Rabida is a content marketing specialist writing in-depth articles and guides about new technology, small business challenges, and blue-collar industry issues and has been featured in several US, UK, and Australian trade publications. He's worked with companies like UPrinting, PrintPlace, and Handle.com