- Jodi Maturo
4 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Home Improvement Contractor
Every homeowner knows that hiring a contractor is an inevitable part of maintaining your home and keeping it updated. And if you’re preparing to sell your property, your realtor might encourage you to get a contractor to tackle some of those home improvement projects you’ve been procrastinating. Whether you want to merely update your kitchen back splash or finish your entire basement, the process will go much smoother if you avoid these common pitfalls when selecting a home improvement contractor.
Mistake #1 - Choosing the Lowest Bid
Let’s assume everybody already knows to get multiple bids – at least I hope so. But it isn’t necessarily the best move to select the vendor with the lowest bid. Of course you want to pay less, but before you go any further, make sure you’re getting the full picture. To accomplish that, you need to ensure you’re comparing bids, apples to apples. Think through some of these questions to figure out where your best deal really lies:
Are the materials included in all the quotes or only some?
Did the contractor give you a verbal estimate or did they provide something in writing that confirms their pricing?
What if there’s a problem during the project…is your contractor insured?
Is he or she licensed to perform this type of work?
Will they secure a permit for the work?
How many years of experience do they have -- do you really want to hire someone that's inexperienced?
Will they perform the work themselves or subcontract it out to someone else?
Mistake #2 - Not Checking with Former Clients
Seriously, find 20-30 minutes to call your contractor’s references before you hire them. Ask specific questions about whether they showed up when they promised, if they cleaned up after themselves, and if the contractor was personally onsite or did they send a team of sub-contractors to perform the work? Furthermore, are the clients still happy with the work or did they discover issues after some time had passed? If there were issues, did the contractor stand behind his work?
Mistake #3 - Signing Incomplete Paperwork
You certainly want something in writing that specifies the scope of the work, as well as the terms & conditions. The scope should be detailed enough to insure everyone is on the same page down to the smallest detail. As an example of this, lets say the scope states that they are installing new kitchen cabinets; does the agreement specify that it includes putting door pulls on the cabinets or are you assuming that is included? Addressing these small details up front, will save you time and headaches during the project.
Likewise, if there are no terms & conditions, that’s a huge red flag that it could be difficult to resolve disputes once the project is in motion. It’s certainly better if the contractor includes terms & conditions, but don't assume it will protect you. Take the time to thoroughly read them before you sign off and make sure it's not a one-sided agreement. You want terms & conditions that protect both parties. Remember, you can always ask for modifications to the terms & conditions before you sign on the dotted line.
Mistake #4 - Not Sticking to the Plan
It’s not uncommon for homeowners to hire a contractor for one thing and then come up with new ideas they want to layer on. This kind of scope creep can lead to lots of uncertainty because the agreement you originally signed, no longer encompasses every aspect of the project. Maybe you decide to have them hang a new light fixture and you assume its just going to be a small additional charge. No big deal, right? Sorry, if it’s not agreed upon in advance and noted in your agreement, you may be surprised at the up-charge you incur when the final bill arrives.
If you’re looking to remodel a home in the Denver metro area, contact Jodi Maturo Design LLC to help you put together a remodel plan and/or manage your project! Call or text us at 303-378-1220 to set up a design consultation appointment.