How to Find a Contractor
Project Planning
February 13, 2018

Finding a reputable contractor should be a priority when you plan your home improvement project. In order to select the right team for the job, there are some things you can do to help make the process easier and help you in the long run.

Whether you’re planning a small home improvement project or a complete remodel, hiring a contractor for your home requires a lot of screening (and plenty of patience!). However, taking the time to hire a qualified contractor can provide peace of mind during the renovation process, and help ensure your home improvement project is done right.

How to find a contractor

Use the following recommendations to help you learn how to find a contractor that fits your needs:

  1. Shop around: Remind yourself that you don’t have to hire the first contractor you talk to (people often forget this!). We encourage you to spend some time researching to think about what kind of contractor you’re looking for and find a few contractors you’d like to get a bid from.

  2. Use referrals: Do you have friends or family members that have recently completed a home renovation? Ask about their contractors and experiences. Referrals are one of the easiest, most efficient ways to find great contractors. If you don’t have any local loved ones to guide your selection, talk to a building inspector in your area. He or she will be able to let you know which contractors consistently meet code requirements. You can also search online resources like Yelp, Angie’s List, or Renovate America’s Find a Contractor tool to expand your options.

  3. Find A Contractor

  4. Consider their specialty: Contractors have areas of specialization and often work on certain types of homes. As you search for contractors, be sure to look for those that focus on the type of work you need. If you have an older home, you might consider hiring a contractor who concentrates on houses from the same era.

  5. Review credentials: Remember to ask for proof of credentials. General contractors and subcontractors should have a license, although the type of license required can differ depending on location. Taking the time to verify their credentials can help ensure the workmanship will be up to your standards.

  6. Ask questions: Once you have a list of individuals you’re interested in hiring, do some serious screening with phone and in-person interviews. Great communication between you and your contractor is crucial for a smooth renovation process, so make sure the contractor is prompt with responses, respectful, and genuinely interested in your ideas for home improvements. Here are a few questions to ask:
    • How long have you been in the business?
    • How many projects like mine have you done in the past year?
    • Can you provide a list of references I can contact?
    • How many projects do you have going on right now?
    • What are some things I should keep in mind for my project?
    • If something comes up, how will additional changes be handled?
    • What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
  7. Establish your expectations: You can decide on certain parameters before hiring a contractor regarding the way they can use and move around your home. If you don’t want your contractor showing up before 8 am, would prefer the team use a portable toilet instead of your bathroom, or you need the project to be completed by a specific date, be vocal about it before hiring.

  8. Get a detailed contract: It’s important to have a detailed, comprehensive contract signed before any work begins. The contract should go over the materials being used, timeline approximations, total costs, and drawings for the planned project. A contract is designed to help you set expectations for your contractor, and give you a more transparent view into the process. While reviewing contracts can feel time-consuming, take the time you need to read it through so that you thoroughly understand what you’re signing.

  9. Don’t pay in advance for your project: Be cautious of contractors who ask for full payment before starting work on your project. Renovate America can help homeowners connect with highly-rated local professionals. Every contractor registered with Renovate America has agreed to our guidelines, which requires these individuals and their teams to abide by our industry-leading safeguards. One additional benefit is, you will have the final say on your project, as your selected contractor who is registered with Renovate America has agreed to get paid only after you’ve signed off that the project was completed to your satisfaction.

  10. Stay on top of the project: After you’ve hired a contractor and signed on the dotted line, it’s time for your home renovation to begin! Check in with your contractor regularly, inspect the team’s work as it happens, and maintain an open line of communication to ensure your project is moving forward as you planned. Expect change orders; these can be caused by anything in the remodeling process that alters the schedule, scope, or cost of the work. Make sure your contractor puts any changes in writing and comes to you for signature approval.

The right contractor can make all the difference for your renovations. Now that you know how to hire a great contractor, you’re a step closer to transforming your living space into the home of your dreams. For more help on securing the right person for the job, learn how to find a contractor with Renovate America.