How To Hire A Great Home Remodeling Contractor

How To Hire A Great Home Remodeling Contractor

Home security systems can help keep you safe at home, but if you don’t do your research before hiring contractors to work on your home you might as well be handing a few of them the contents of your bank account.
Too often we hear stories of home improvements scans like this one in Pittsburgh where an elderly homeowner was swindled nearly $200,000 from a shady contractor.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure you are choosing a reputable and professional home remodeling contractor.

So you’re thinking about doing home renovations? Congratulations! When home improvement projects are done properly, they can make your home look more beautiful, improve its value and potentially save you money on your energy bills. We love seeing the smiles on the faces of homeowners after a home improvement project is completed.

We understand the type of commitment it takes to renovate, remodel or replace anything in your home, and we want to empower you to stay safe and informed throughout the entire process. This page is designed to help you choose a contractor for home renovations by offering tips on what to look for when comparing.

Here are important tips to keep in mind some of the most important things to look for when choosing a home remodeling contractor:

Start by knowing what you want in a contractor.

Hard Hats

When you’re hiring a contractor, the you need to first ask yourself what’s more important: just being done, or having the job done right the first time.

Many home remodeling companies tout their years of experience as something that sets them apart from the others. But does experience really matter when choosing a contractor? Can’t a brand-new company do just as well as a seasoned company? And when you absolutely need it done today, it’s easy to assume that the right contractor for the job is the contractor that can get there first – regardless of how long they’ve been working on homes.

Typically, an established company will have had much more time to hone their skills and you’ll be a direct recipient of that experience. They’ll have set standards for their installers, consultants and technicians, and they’ll be able to serve more customers. They might also be able to tackle “vertical integration”  — meaning, they would be able to engineer, manufacture, sell, install and service their home products, instead of selling someone else’s at a markup.

A new company will generally be “hungry” for business, and will do whatever it takes to make you a customer. If you’re chasing the lowest possible price, they could seem like a more attractive option. However, there’s the possibility that a new company will be overextended and unable to take on your project. They might also cut corners to edge out the established companies on price. Be sure to check their reviews {anchor link to reviews section}, licensing {anchor link to licensing} and read their warranty {anchor link to warranty} very carefully.

Protect yourself: be proactive about licenses and insurance.

Make sure your contractor is insured.

Don’t cheap out on a contractor – you could be left with a bill! Make sure that your contractor carries general liability and auto insurance for each project. That way, you’ll be protected if anything happens to one of the contractor’s crews (or their vehicles) during your project.

A contractor should also have bonding for each project. This is an additional agreement that the job will be completed to the terms upon which you agree.

It’s okay to ask for proof! An insured contractor should be able to provide a copy of their insurance and the bond whenever you ask.

Make sure your contractor is licensed.

We have found that many home improvement companies don’t display their licenses on their website, but it’s important to make all current licenses and numbers readily available. These numbers can be the first point of reference for any botched job.

You should always check to see if a contractor is licensed and insured before requesting a quote. If the licensing information is missing from their website, the company either doesn’t have it or doesn’t think it’s important – and that’s alarming.

You can also ask about licensing during your in-home consultation. Every employee of the contractor you’re evaluating should be able to either give you a copy of the licensing information or help you find it online.

Really read the reviews.

4 Star Reviews

When looking for information about a company, the first place homeowners often turn to is their network of friends and family who have had similar work done. Some people will take their search to social media and ask on Facebook for recommendations. Finding reviews online can also be a great way to research a company.

Most people search for reviews on sites like Google, Angie’s List, TrustPilot, Yelp and GuildQuality. These sites are known for having reviews that are trustworthy and give the big picture. However, a star rating only says so much about a company. Here are a few tips on finding trustworthy reviews – and how to avoid being misled by bad reviews:

  • Prioritize recent reviews with customer comments. Those comments – positive or negative – have more value than just a star rating.
  • Look for company responses to negative reviews. The character of their responses will tell you much about how that company values its customers.
  • Where possible, seek out reviews that describe the products or services that interest you.
  • Be wary of companies whose sole source of reviews is their own website – you have no way of knowing if those reviews are legitimate.
  • The number of reviews matters! A company with four stars and hundreds or thousands of reviews is a much safer bet than a company with five stars and ten reviews.
  • You can safely disregard reviews that aren’t descriptive. Positive or negative, short comments like “Terrible!” or “Loved it!” really don’t provide any useful information.

Protect your investment with a good warranty.

Home Service Warranty

Almost every home renovation company will brag about their warranty. A clear warranty states how to obtain service and what is covered. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when comparing warranties:

  • Does the warranty cover common issues and events?
  • Who fulfills the warranty for service and repairs? Is it the installer, or a third party?
  • Who is covered by the warranty? Is it transferable in case of a sale?
  • Check the fine print on the lifespan of the warranty – is it genuinely as long as it’s advertised?

Don’t be shy about asking for explanations from your contacts at the companies you’re considering.

Look for worthwhile awards and certifications.

An Angie’s List award paints an accurate picture of a company as it is based on real time reviews verified by Angie’s List. Furthermore, Angie’s List doesn’t allow companies to purchase reviews or ratings. The awards are only available to companies who demonstrate excellence within the industry and who achieve customer service standards.

When a company uses GuildQuality to ask for feedback, it demonstrates that they are sincerely interested in hearing what their customers have to say. They want to understand their customers’ experiences and learn how to improve. GuildQuality specializes in home improvement feedback, so you can quickly compare options using their real-time results.

The Better Business Bureau protects consumers by being a reliable source of information about consumer experiences. An A+ rating is the highest BBB assigns. It helps consumers find companies they can trust. A good metric of a company is how they respond to negative reviews. Have they worked through the issues to make it right for the customer?

Look for price fairness.

If you’re looking for fair pricing across the board, you’ll find a Buyer Protection Guarantee useful. A Buyer Protection Guarantee is a promise that every consumer will receive the same applicable discounts and rebates on the same scope of work on the same day. It puts buyers in the driver’s seat as they can be confident that the presented pricing is the same as what their neighbor would get. This signifies reliability and fairness.