How to Hire the “Right” Contractor? 

Do you have a favorite project, or special area of your home you would like to improve? Hiring the “right” contractor can make all the difference between project perfection, or complete disaster!

So let’s start there. As real estate values continue rising, now is the time to find a trusted contractor and invest in your home. This is the year to make your home’s “dream” project a reality!

Are you ready? Let’s find out.

Seattle is a really big city, so where do you start looking for contractors you can trust?

Family, friends, and co-workers are a great place to start. They will fill your head with ideas, suggestions, and recommendations of people they have worked with previously. But, remember just because a vendor, or contractor may come from a highly trusted resource doesn’t always mean they’re the “right” choice for you.

Do Your Homework!

There are plenty of local Seattle resources to guide your initial search and information gathering efforts. But, be smart with both your time and your efforts. Narrow your search using key factors and feedback from sources you trust. Both online and in the real world. Like your friends, family and trusted professional colleagues — they can be truly invaluable!

  • Make sure you have clearly outlined your goals and expectations for the project. This is step one and needs to be completed prior to beginning your search for the “right” contractor. Now, take a deep breath and dive in.
  • Remember, this is your dream, so take your time and flesh out all of the relevant details. After all, how can you expect the contractor to help you complete a project that is only half complete in your mind. Reality check, you can’t. So, make sure you have a complete idea of all project specs, before hiring anyone, for anything.
  • Be sure and take advantage of any and all available local, community, and governmental resources.

Put in the time!

  • This is not only limited to reviews on sites like Yelp! and Angie’sList. There’s so much more! The Next Door app provides a direct link to local community resources right on your phone!
  • Social media, apps, and online search engines provide wonderful access to quality information, not to mention invaluable research opportunities. Get started today!
  • 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’s fast, efficient and cheap.

Secure Multiple Contractor Proposals

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 always in the details. And be careful, there can be hidden terms and additional costs buried deep within the proposal.
  • 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 now, they are not the “right” resource for you, or your project.
  • An initial proposal will include the complete scope of the work, a timeframe for completion, and how additional project changes will be handled.
  • Also, be thinking about specific project deliverables related to your schedule of payments. So, do they seem reasonable? Are there other opportunities to build trust with your contractor as the project progresses?

 

Choose Materials Carefully

  • The contractor is responsible for the labor and must stand behind the craftsmanship of their work. However, when deciding which outside materials to use, it is wise to understand and and all additional warranties. 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. 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.

A Final Thought…

Remember, there are exceptions to every rule. But, no matter how diligently you plan, research, and execute your “dream” project, there will always be challenges. Following the guidelines above will help any project proceed more efficiently, lessening the impact of unwanted challenges, or complications. Not to mention, reducing overall risk, while limiting exposure to potential delays and unforeseen cost overruns related to contractors and your project.

Summertime in the Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful time of the year. Finding a reliable, trustworthy home improvement contractor helps ensure your next project is completed on time and in budget!