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Great Remodeling Choices 101: How to Choose a Contractor

Become a more empowered homeowner with these five expert tips on hiring a professional and qualified contractor.



Photos courtesy Design Studio

This article is the first of a three-part series about making smart decisions before embarking on your home remodel project.

So, you want to remodel your home in some capacity. How do you know how to find highly qualified professionals to make your desired changes? How do you find someone to actually help you articulate your vision and then help you take the necessary steps to make it come to life? 

This has always been a complex process, with decisions at every turn. Home remodeling has become even more complicated by the pressure and unrealistic expectations perpetrated by the myriad of home remodeling shows on television, in which projects occur quickly and for an unrealistic price tag. These shows are enticing with their shiny and swiftly completed projects, but the reality is much more nuanced.

Building codes, materials, product specification differentiation, what makes something builder-grade versus box-store, the ability to assess the quality of the electricians, plumbers, framers, installers, site managers, contractors, architects, electrical/mechanical and structural engineers, designers, and kitchen and bath designers that you will inevitably need to work with… the home improvement industry can be overwhelmingly technical, difficult to understand, and more often than not, not totally transparent. How will you know that the “experts” you hire are qualified, connected to the community, loyal to the local codes, and familiar with the inspectors or at least capable of communicating well on your behalf?

5 tips for hiring the right contractor:

Many remodeling projects begin with the hiring of a professional and qualified contractor. Here are some tips and important considerations for choosing the best one:

1. Make sure the contractor provides current insurance, including liability for at least $1 million, and make sure it has not expired.

2. Call their references, and even take it a step further and call their suppliers. Are their suppliers reputable? Ask these suppliers if your prospective contractor pays for the product within 30 days of purchase. If they do not, this is a red flag that the contractor could be floating money from one job to another.

3. Ask the contractor what their protocol is at the end of each workday at your house. Listen for standards like: Do they have a clear stopping point? Do they clean up and put everything back? Answers to these questions can be both positive and negative indicators of the pride they take in their work and their work habits.

4. Ask how they bill you and how fast they expect to get paid. A professional is not hand to mouth. They can afford to invoice you and have you pay within a week or two after completion of the task.

5. If you get several bids and one is much lower, there is usually a reason that speaks to one of the following: 1.) The bidder is desperate for work and just wants to “get in the door” with the intent to capture his “loss” in other ways during the project; 2.) The bidder intentionally excludes items that you may not see but will be told about later; 3.) The bidder does not have the expertise to properly assess and price the job.

Being an empowered homeowner—with the ability to make better and more thoughtful judgment calls about the people you hire—is vitally important to your remodeling project.

Keep your eyes peeled in July for part two of this three-part series!

Judy Goldman is the owner and CEO of Design Studio Interior Solutions, a residential and commercial interior design firm based in Boulder, Colorado. View their profile or contact them at 303.652.1727.

Content for this article provided by Design Studio Interior Solutions.

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