How to Hire a Remodeling Contractor You Can Trust

February 14th 2013

How to Hire a Remodeling Contractor You Can Trust

For every one great remodeling contractor there are ten terrible ones. Hiring a remodeling contractor is a tough call. Just like anyone else you meet, how do you know which contractor you can trust? The anxiety quadruples when you’re investing thousands of dollars in the hope that this contractor will do what he says he’s going to do and do it right.

Finding the right remodeling contractor for your home is a lot like dating. How can you really tell which one to trust after just a few meetings? That’s why there are so many horror stories about contractors. Some are great salesmen whose skill ends there—sales talk. Other contractors do wonderful remodeling work, but you’d never know it based on meeting them. They’re quiet and focus on the work.

Hiring a remodeling contractor means you’re going to have a relationship with this person. It’s a working relationship, but a relationship nonetheless. Your contractor will be in your home five days a week for three to four months on smaller projects. Larger remodeling projects can last up to six months, again five days a week. That’s more time than a lot of people spend with their spouse!

Is it ever possible to know with 100% certainty that a remodeling contractor is trustworthy? Usually not until after the project starts and true colors show. Beyond the remodeling quotes and the promises, ask yourself these questions before you hire a contractor:

  • Is the remodeling contractor on the same page as you are in terms of design, pricing, work schedule, expectations, etc.?
  • Does he have a clear understanding of what you want and repeats it back to you and details it in the quote?
  • Is the contractor able to logically explain why something you want wouldn’t be viable? Better yet, does he have a compromise or solution that gives you what you want anyway?
  • Does the remodeling contractor really listen to you or is he on his phone during your meetings?
  • Has the contractor incorporated your ideas into the remodeling design or is he acting like your home is his house?

Once those questions are answered to your satisfaction, do a Google search. Look for anything too out of the ordinary. Take a few bad online reviews with a grain of salt. But if you find complaint after complaint, run the other way.

Talk to people you know. Get referrals. Call the referrals the remodeling contractor gives you. But remember, contractors are going to have you talk to people they know will sing their praises.

Check the remodeling portfolio. It’s pretty easy to tell when a project is real and when it’s “lifted” from the Internet. A remodeling contractor is proud of his work and won’t hesitate to share photos with you. Ask questions. If it’s not his work, then he’ll have a difficult time answering on the fly.

Make sure the remodeling contractor carries proper and adequate insurance to protect your own financial interests should there be an accident at your home. Membership in NARI is a good indicator of quality work as well.

Hiring a trustworthy remodeling contractor takes weeding through the duds to find the one who can talk, do excellent work, and more importantly, listen to you. It requires going with your gut instinct. Often, it depends on how well your personalities mesh during your introductory and planning meetings, which can set the tone of the whole project.