How to Hire the “Right” Contractor 

With another gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer right around the corner, what promises have you made to both yourself and your home this year? From the North Sound to the South Sound and across the Eastside, real estate prices in the Puget Sound region continue to rise.

Now is the time to invest in your home, yourself and your dreams! This is the year to make your “dream” project a reality!

Are you ready? Let’s find out.

One of the most difficult challenges anyone will face when beginning a new project of any type is hiring the “right” contractor for the job, right?

Seattle is a pretty big city, so where do you begin and who can you trust?

Family, friends and co-workers will fill your head with ideas, suggestions and recommendations of people whom they may have worked with in the past. However, just because a vendor or contractor may come from a highly reliable and trusted resource doesn’t always mean they are always the “right” choice for you.

Do Your Homework

There are plenty of local Seattle-based resources to help guide and assist your initial research and information gathering efforts.

  • Make sure you have clearly outlined the goals and expectations for the project, prior to beginning your search for the “right” contractor.
  • If you cannot clearly articulate what your picture is supposed to look like, how can you possibly expect someone else (the contractor) to paint your picture?
  • Take advantage of all available local, community and governmental resources.
  • Social media and online search engines provide access to tremendous amounts of quality information and valuable research opportunities.
  • This is not only limited to reviews on sites like Yelp! And Angie’sList.
  • With a little digging and investigative work, one can unearth all kinds of useful information including; matters of public record, lawsuits, liens and bankruptcies.
  • Check with your local and state governments including the following organizations:

    They should be able to provide insights into the reputation, reliability and past business performance of potential vendors located anywhere in the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Plus it is fast, efficient and cheap (not including your time.)

Do Not Limit Yourself to One Proposal

On site meetings help with estimating the scale, scope and overall size of the project, while providing an opportunity to meet the contractor in person.

Although this may require a significant time commitment on your part, most reputable contractors suggest getting at least three estimates prior to making your final selection.

Screenings are extremely important and a highly valuable tool, because they provide initial clues and glimpses into what working with any contractor might be like over the life of your project.

Important observations include organizational skills, level of trust, attention to detail, demeanor and personality, technical knowledge and insight into the project itself and a general sense of interpersonal and communicative skills.

Don’t let your “dream” project become a total nightmare. Hire the “right” contractor first.

Evaluate Proposals Carefully

  • The devil is in the details. There can be hidden items, terms and additional costs buried deep within the proposal itself.
  • Take your time reviewing and evaluating the proposal. If you have a “trusted” construction resource available, have them review the proposal on your behalf. Never, ever rush to sign anything. If a contractor is pressuring you to sign right now, they are not the “right” resource for your project.
  • An initial understanding of the proposal will include the scope of the work, timeframe to completion and how any additional project changes or scope creep might be handled.
  • Be thinking about specific project deliverables related to your schedule of payments. Do they seem reasonable? Are there other opportunities for you and your contractor to build trust with one another as the project progresses?
  • Another area for consideration is in the actual materials being used to complete the project. The contractor is responsible for the labor and must stand behind the craftsmanship of their work, but when selecting outside materials, it is wise to understand all additional warranties and why they are being selected to complete your “dream” project. Don’t forget the price for those materials can fluctuate depending on the quality and craftsmanship involved in their original manufacture. Higher end materials tend to indicate a longer useful life and should have a far better warranty.
  • Remember to address how and when change orders will be handled. One thing you are absolutely guaranteed with any project, it will change over time. Have a plan in place to ensure there are minimal surprises for both parties.
  • Most reputable companies will offer a warranty and/or express guarantee against defects in their workmanship. If a contractor is unwilling to stand behind their work, then neither should you. Don’t walk. Run in the opposite direction.
  • Ask potential contractors to please provide several recommendations. A quick online Google search and visit to the company’s web page should provide an additional level of clarity and project detail, along with numerous online reviews and any revealing comments.

Remember, there are exceptions to every rule and no matter how diligently you plan, research and execute your “dream” project there will always be challenges. Clearly following the guidelines listed above, for any project, regardless of the size, scope or complexity will help the project operate more efficiently, while lessening the impact of any potential challenges and/or complications. Not to mention, you are reducing your risk, while limiting your exposure to unwanted delays and any unforeseen cost overruns related to your project.

Summertime in the Emerald City is by far the most beautiful time of the year. Choosing a reputable and reliable local resource to complete your next project, will help your “dream” become a reality, while reducing stress and ensuring the project is completed on time and within budget!

Leaving you enough summer to enjoy gorgeous lakes Washington and Union!