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Things to consider when hiring a general contractor for home improvements, maintenance, and renovations 

 January 27, 2021

By Scott Teesdale  

minutes read time

For any homeowner looking to remodel, repair, or perform maintenance on their home, choosing the right general contractor will ease the mind, save your wallet, and avoid wasted time. There are many things to consider when choosing a home improvement contractor, but the main takeaways we want you to know are:

  • Figure out if you are upgrading or remodeling
  • Create a budget and timeline
  • Check the internet for contractors, and check their reviews
  • Look for experience and ask them the right interview questions

There are so many reasons a homeowner needs a contractor, but reviewing these points and creating a home improvement budget will ensure the job is done on time and under budget.

Figure out what you need to upgrade or remodel

One of the top things to consider when choosing a home improvement contractor is what you need to fix, maintain, or remodel. For those homeowners who may be considering selling their home, a professional inspector can help them identify areas where repairs or maintenance may be necessary. For others, a personal inspection may help identify areas where they want to remodel. And yet, for some, it’s just a matter of personal preference to either make sure they love where they live or maximize their home’s value over time.

Create a list of each factor. Plan it out like the following to know what needs to be done: 

Maintenance

  • Are appliances working correctly?
  • Are energy bills increasing, which could indicate a problem with an HVAC unit?
  • Is paint worn around the home? 

Repairs:

  • Are there cracks or holes in the wall that need to be covered?
  • Do any appliances need repairs completely? 
  • Is there a plumbing problem that needs to be fixed?

Remodeling:

  • Is there anywhere in the home that can be improved?
  • What remodeling needs to be completed (new paint, additions, new materials, etc.)?
  • Will remodeling create a need for more electrical, plumbing, or other factors?

Knowing what is necessary before moving forward provides homeowners with a clear understanding of the next step.

Create a budget

One of the most critical steps to remodeling, repairing, or maintaining parts of a home is creating a budget. Of course, most individuals don’t have money sitting around to use whenever their heart’s content, so they must create a home renovation budget that fits their situation. Knowing a budget helps a homeowner plan for the overall job and the professionals they need to hire to do the job. A budget allows homeowners to take on one job at a time as they complete everything that needs to be done to ensure their home is in perfect condition.

When creating a budget, think about the parts of the home that need to be repaired, maintained, or remodeled. Can all jobs be completed at once? If not, which job takes priority? Homeowners may rather have a newly renovated room instead of repairing a minor problem in a different room that doesn’t receive as much traffic. Creating a budget allows homeowners to plan for such.

Don’t go over budget if it hurts other aspects of monthly living. However, when creating a budget, consider the cost of hiring someone to help complete the job effectively. 

Where to look for help

There are several ways to find help for repairs, maintenance, or remodeling. One resource a homeowner should consider is word of mouth. Ask neighbors or family members who they have used for certain repairs or maintenance. See if they have someone they can recommend to get the job done correctly. Of course, homeowners can also do the research themselves by looking at numerous online resources that provide lists of home service professionals in the homeowner’s specific area. Here are just a few of the online resources homeowners can use in their search:

  • Angie’s List: This is an excellent site with several home service experts and reviews from customers.
  • Yelp: Yelp is helpful to look for a specific home service expert in a given area with ratings and reviews to help make a decision. 
  • Nextdoor: This is another excellent way to get word of mouth recommendations on service experts near a homeowner.
  • Craigslist: This site can help individuals find others who post for work, but make sure to further research the service expert to ensure they are good for the job.
  • Google: Using a Google search such as “plumber near me” can yield numerous results and take you directly to a website for the service expert to research. 

Finding a service expert or contractor to help is one thing, but knowing what to look for helps provide peace of mind throughout the entire process.

What to look for when choosing a contractor

With a contractor, a homeowner can get the most out of a job. But before hiring someone, it’s helpful to know what to look for to ensure the right choice is made. Here are the various factors to consider when hiring someone:

  • Licenses and insurance: Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured. This protects the homeowner from potential issues that may arise.
  • Years of experience: The longer a contractor has been working and the more jobs they’ve completed, the more confidence homeowners can have in hiring them. It gives significant peace of mind knowing that a contractor can get the job done right.
  • Online reviews: Check online reviews, but be wary of contractors that have only a few five-star reviews. Some companies will have fake positive reviews, so make sure to sort by date and see when the first was left. Reviews should not be bunched up on one date, and homeowners should check multiple sites to ensure the reviews line up correctly. A company’s mission statement can also tell homeowners a lot about who they’re hiring.

Questions to ask when evaluating a general contractor

After you’ve found a general contractor, you will want to vet them. Part of this process includes asking them a series of questions to learn more about them, their background, and their professionalism. Here is a short list of what you should ask:

  • Do they have proper insurance coverage?
  • If necessary, do they have the proper license?
  • Do they do the work, or will someone else (e.g., an assistant) be doing the actual work?
  • Do people consider them to be reliable?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How is the quality of their work?
  • What is their hourly rate?
  • When the work was finished, was the job site neat and clean? (Did they respect your home?)
  • Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee?

These are just a few things to consider when choosing a home improvement contractor.

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I use data and technology to help Millennials navigate the ins-and-outs of buying or selling a home in today's market. From appraisals to mortgages to zoning, I cover it all with the goal to teach others. Connect with me on social via the icons above.

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