What Makes a Great Remodeling Contractor?
When a homeowner is feeling cramped in their home, or their kitchen just doesn’t work anymore, they will need a remodeling contractor. This is a really tough decision to make.
Many people spend time online looking at all the different remodeling sites. Some others think they can do the whole job themselves and then get stuck. Choosing the best Dallas remodeling contractors can be the hardest part of any remodeling job.
You’ve heard the old saying: time is money. Your first consideration when choosing a contractor is to get someone who will not waste your time.
Everyone has heard the story of the contractors who show up the first day, demolish the kitchen, and then disappear. They have already collected half the money upfront from the homeowner because they told the homeowner they had to buy the cabinets. This unfortunately can and does happen.
Sometimes, it is just a plain outright scam. Other times they are just poor managers. They may have had to go back to a previous job and had to leave for a few days. But they have not been answering their phones, and the homeowner really doesn’t know what happened.
After a while, the homeowner doesn’t know whether to call the police or hire other Dallas remodeling contractors. This is a huge waste of the owner’s time.
When an owner first starts the long journey of home remodeling, there is only one thing that will save their sanity: references. Homeowners can fall prey to beautiful websites with fantastic promises. Don’t be fooled by the website.
On the other hand, if the contractor has no website at all, that can be a red flag.
The only way to know for sure is to talk to people who have used this particular contractor. When the homeowner schedules the first consultation or the free estimate, the owner needs to be very firm about getting the names of references.
Also, don’t be fooled by online reviews. Many websites do not validate these reviews. They could be written by anyone. The contractor’s brother may have written them. Someone could have been paid to write a good review. The only way to find out for sure is to talk to a real live person.
Home remodeling is a costly project. It doesn’t pay to spend $40K on a kitchen remodel that never gets quite finished, or doesn’t look like it was supposed to, or took three months too long.
A homeowner has to be bold and ask for the names of previous clients. Talk to those clients and, if you can, ask to see the finished project. Most folks will want to help the homeowner and want to help keep the good guys in business and the bad guys out of business.
If a homeowner has a friend of their own who has had remodeling work done recently, this will be the very best recommendation a contractor can get. A personal friend can give you true information.
Specific Questions to Ask
When the homeowner talks to a previous client, he should ask targeted questions. Did the contractor finish within the agreed-upon time frame? Was the estimate reasonable, or did the contractor run over budget by several thousand dollars? How has the work stood up over time? Did the contractor and his technicians speak respectfully to the homeowner and to each other? Did the technicians clean up after themselves as they went along? Were they punctual?
After determining the integrity of the contractor, the next thing good Dallas remodeling contractors must have is paperwork.
The contractor must be licensed in the state where they are doing business. They must have technicians who have valid licenses – licensed plumbers, licensed electricians, etc. They must demonstrate that they are able to get the proper permits before they start the job.
Many states require remodeling contractors to have the proper liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. Even if the state does not require it, the homeowner should not hire someone who doesn’t produce proof of liability insurance that protects the homeowner if someone gets hurt or if their house is damaged.
Not only does a homeowner need someone with experience, but they also need someone with specific experience. It makes no sense to hire someone who only has done kitchen remodels when the homeowner needs an addition put on to their house.
When the contractor first comes to see the prospective project, ask to see their portfolio of previous jobs. The homeowner knows the contractor is only going to show their best work, so keep that in mind. They aren’t going to show anything that didn’t turn out too well. There should be before and after shots. The pictures should be clear. If their portfolio only has three jobs in it, it would be wise to choose someone with more experience.
Depending on the remodeling project being done, there are things to notice when looking at the finished product at someone else’s house. For instance, if the project included tile floors, look for extra grout at the edges that is trying to hide tiles that were cut wrong. Look at the floor plan in a kitchen remodel – are the refrigerator, sink, and stove placed where they work efficiently together?
Watch for paint splatters that haven’t been cleaned up. This can indicate sloppiness in more important areas. Always look at the quality of the materials used in each job.
Before the homeowner settles on one contractor, they should get three bids. Compare the bids carefully. If the contractor says they may exceed the estimate by 20%, that is not a good sign. Some contractors will buy lower-quality materials in an effort to reduce the bid, so the homeowner should make sure he is comparing apples to apples.
Remember that the lowest bid isn’t always the best choice. Choose a contractor who does the best work based on previous jobs. Although price is important, references count more than price.