Hiring a contractor, where do you begin? In this segmant we are going to address the following bullet points when searching for a reputable, skilled contractor. This is of course based on a remodeling project. Some of the points will be:
CONTRACTOR vs. HANDYMAN:
So.. what is the difference? One of the key differences is usually in the licensing and then the insurance. The licensing will dictate the degree in which the professional contractor can perform the assigned work. Each state will have different degrees of licensing. Reputable contractors will be licensed, bonded and insured. However, a handyman will just need to acquire a business license and general liability insurance.
The second aspect is that handyman does a wide variety of small home repair and maintenance projects. They pick up skills through hands-on experience instead of special training or education. A contractor is a licensed specialist who does large tasks in a particular trade—for example, a plumber or electrician. You'll really know the difference when you receive an estimate which 2x's the amount a huge difference.
SERVICES PROVIDED by the CONTRACTOR:
It has been my experience through the years, that each contracting company will be unique in the some of the services they offer. Some contractors have specialized areas, such as drywaller, framer or millwork and cabinets. Others may be more generalized, being able to offer services in all areas or sub-contract with other contractors who can. I prefer to use a more generalized contractor and I want to work with someone who is definitely organized. Meaning, do they communicate well, do they have the proper tools to perform the work, are the respectful to jobsite and do they understand safety and construction hazards (ex. proper attire, prepping jobsite, cleanup) Which leads me to me to my next point, "where do you find such a contractor"?
WHERE TO FIND A CONTRACTOR:
The best place to start is by obtaining referrals through neighbors, friends or family. Referrals usually have working experience and can guide you on the step by step process. However, each situation is different so always ask questions and give comparisions of your expectation of the project verses the what the referral experienced.
Another place to find contractors is through your local contractors association or contractors board either by state or county. This will also list their licensing and any violations against the company. Be very leery of cheap solicitations by back alley contractors offering services. Remember that, "good help isn't cheap and cheap help is good"! A solid reputable contractor will have referrals, a portfolio of customers and strong working knowledge of the trades. Do your research!
PREP and PLAN:
The most important part of your project is the prepping and planning and you will want to have all this place prior to meeting with a contractor. Those items could be visuals. What are you envisioning for this project or space? Your language will be much different than the industry standard - so providing photos or illustrations will break that barrier to clarify what it is you are trying to accomplish.
Secondly, have you start a budget of what you can afford. I find that most of my clients have no clue on labor costs. They may have gathered all the materials, but were unable to obtain the labor cost.
Thirdly, you will need to aquire some type of drawing which can be sketched or computer generated. This is important for possible future permitting. And you will want the permitting recorded if you are making huge changes in the residence. Why, because these remodeling changes will add equity and value to the home. A colorboard may also be required if you live in a community that has an HOA and requires approvals for any construction on the exterior.
SHOW GUEST: Scott Wogan of Wogan Brothers Construction
I met Scott through one of my previous positions, while working as a Kitchen & Bath Designer at a local home improvement showroom. He frequently came in to purchased cabinets and was always so enthusiastic and upbeat. Each time I had to schedule a field measure, I would be so impressed at how he handled his projects and the customers. I finally asked him to become our preferred installer.
Scott and I worked rather closely together on all projects to insure that our customers were taken care of and any issues were resolved with damages, missing parts, pieces or unexpected items. It has been two years since and still going strong.
The biggest hurdles with customers that Scott has stated again and again are:
"When you trust a contractor enough to hire them, you should trust them enough to know what your budget is. The most common method is to compare bids that are created by what you wish you could have instead... of what you can afford. Wasting alot of time for both the contractor and client".
"The biggest stumbling block or greatest asset to a project, depending on how they are matched up. Do they have "this old house" expectations with a shed reno budget."
"If the Client doesn't help with the planning on their end, the contractor has to do it, and it will cost money. Plan and prepare in coordination with your designer or contractor."
For more information on this segment or if you have any questions, please contact us by sending email.