How Select & Hire A Contractor In 5 Easy Steps?
My easy 5 Step Process To Hire A Contractor is a technique I used to select the best sub contractor for the job & budget.
Picking the best pro was never this easy!
Do you know what kind of professional help you will need to hire for your improvement task?
No?…Well, You are not the only one…
Most people don’t even know the alternative services that are readily available.
Also, when thinking of experts, many people simply think about engineers, architects, and designers.
However, there are numerous other choices as well.
This simple to follow and practical 5 Step Contractor Hiring Process. Is a technique that is designed to find the best contractor for any kind of job & budget. And I successful used it for many years in my own remodeling business.
Here are the proven 5 Steps of my contractor hiring process outlined:
- Determine what type of contractor do you need. I will show & elaborate on main choices offered.
- Finding Contractor Candidates for your project – Contractor sources
- First Meeting & Interview with your prospective Contractor. Here I will share my Interview Questions to find the best candidate for the job
- Collecting and Comparing Estimate
- Finalize the paperwork and your contractor choice
Further I will point out some warning signs or “red flags” you need to be aware of to avoid pitfalls.
Basically, I will give you detailed and practical advice. On how I select and hire my subcontractor. Regardless if I am looking for an electrical contractor or plumbing contractor. I always use the 5 Step Contractor Hiring Process.
Step 1 Determine what type of contractor do you need to hire.
Once you determined your project scope it will be fairly easy to decide what part you can do as Do It Yourself Project. As well as what part you rather should sub out (hire help).
First you should identify what are your strengths and weaknesses. The following is a list of skills, that may call for some professional assistance.
You should take a good look and decide if you can or can’t accomplish those on your own.
Be Honest to yourself because a smooth and successful project will depend on it.
Consider your experience level. Maybe you have done some of these tasks before in a different project.
Budget driving – Are you able to adhere to the readily available spending plan?
Elements – Can you coordinate products, color and textures for your project?
Design Styles – Do you know your desired design style and how to reproduce it?
Decisiveness – Are you flexible in your thinking and can you make quick and targeted decisions?
Experience – Did you previously complete any tasks in other projects?
Visualization – Are you able to envision the outcome of a completed project?
All the above are qualities that many individuals have and in reality are great at. If you are among them, then it is really imaginable that you have exactly what it requires to go it all alone in a DIY Project.
However, you should keep in mind that often you still need to work with an expert on a few technical parts of a job.
So keep this 5 Step Contractor Hiring Process handy.
Below I give you a list of the most commonly used trade professionals.
I also include a short description of what the services are commonly used for.
The Home Improvement Professionals:
- Architect: Should be enlisted if you are building a new house or if you plan on major home additions.
- Builder: In case you want to build a addition and don’t want to frame and sheet yourself. In NC contracts below $30.000 can be contracted without the requirement of a General Contractors License
- General Contractor: Or design build firm that will handle the majority of, or your complete project.
- Construction Manager: If you are not present at the job location but need someone to oversee your project progress. This is especially useful if you want to use not licensed but skilled laborer.
- Electrician: As we already discussed under scope. I advise for safety reasons to use this pro trade.
- Interior Decorator: If you need help to finalize your project to make it really outstanding as well as color coordinated enlist this pro.
- Interior Designer: This trade should be enlisted before construction if you want to adjust floor plans and to optimize functionality of your space.
- Plumber: If updating old and existing plumbing or rerouting the same this trades pro can save you many headaches. Further they install Toilet, bath-tub and shower units that can be hard to handle.
- Structural Engineer: If you desire to remove or open up walls involving some sort of structural engineer is necessary because he will determine what kind of framing adjustment are required to ensure that your home will not collapse under use.
Needless to say the list can go on since there is a professional contractor for every task in a home improvement and remodeling project.
I just focused on the ones you may need during a DIY project.
You will find that for some jobs, the choice will be very simple. Like there may be structural modifications needing or technical blueprints required. An addition or brand-new building might need designers stamped prints and so on.
Other times it is not as clear and possibly not even required if you can identify your very own skills and certifications.
Once you decided what type of professional help you need to enroll for your project you will need to find the right man / women for the job. What leads us to the next step in our 5 Step Contractor Hiring Process.
Step 2 Finding the right contractor candidates for your project
Whenever you decide to hire some professional help, making the right choice is among the most crucial steps you will have to take throughout your redesigning or remodeling preparations.
Experience has shown that it is more effective to work with a professional that somebody you know has actually recently worked with.
However, that’s not constantly the case. Projects are never the same. And lifestyles or situations change as well.
Either way to make the selection process a simple as possible you should follow my easy and systematic approach.
The goal is that you feel comfortable with your chosen professional. No matter how you feel about the business’s credentials, you need to feel that you can have open dialog and feel trust.
It is your property and your financial investment. Therefore it is in your best interest to be very specific when choosing the best service pro for your project.
Depending upon the size of your job, they will end up being like a part of your household. And we actually love to be part of your remodeling and home design family.
It is very important that you are comfortable with your contractor.
Because you will have to let him into your intimate area. And maybe even for a rather a long time.
Further, you need to make sure you’re professional choice is the best option financial as well as emotional.
Here are a few sources to find candidates:
- If you’re dealing with a designer or architect, they will most likely have tips.
- You can likewise check out contractor associations for referrals.
- However in my experience it is most times best to speak with your friends or family first. Who knows, you may find an uncle that you did not know about that would love to lend you a helping hand.
- Check our Service Pro Section of our shop
- Local Phone Book
- Local Internet Search
- Lead Services like Home Advisor or AngiesList
I listed the lead service last because I do not really condone to them. Out of my own experience you will wind up with dozens of prospects that paid to get your contact information.
Further these services tell you that they screen all their contractor.
And I doubt that very much.
Because I used to be one of them. Back then I just started out and had not sufficient experience or any credentials. Those Companies make money of contractor that need work.
Good contractor do most times not need lead services. Because they can live of their referrals. Either way this list of sources should be sufficient to find the appropriate prospects.
Step 3 Meeting & Interview with your prospective Contractor.
Prior to your first meeting you need to make some preparations.
You should set up a spread sheet or a table in a note book that you can easily check off in.
Similar to my Designer Checklist I collected questions that I am most times asked during my first consultation with a new remodeling prospect.
I strongly suggest that you meet with at least 3 better 5 different service professionals (5 Electrical Contractor, 5 Plumbing Contractor and so on).
Below you will find a list of 19 question that you should ask the considered contractor and note their answers in your table or spread sheet.
1. How long have you stayed in business?
2. Have you done similar projects?
3. Will you get permits?
4. What size crew is going to work on our project?
5. How long should it take to complete?
6. What is your regular work schedule (days & hours /day)
7. What insurance do you carry? (Workman’s Compensation and General Liability).
8. How will my project be managed?
We are making great progress and are half way there 🙂
9. What kind of price range you think is suitable?
10. What are your payment terms?
11. How will we be billed?
12. What type contract we will be working with?
13. Can you provide 3 referrals with contact number?
14. Do you have a current project going that we can check out?
15. Are you certified?
16. What steps will you require to safeguard our property throughout the process?
17. Will you supply a composed schedule?
18. When are you available to work on my project?
19. How will you handle unforeseen problems or delays?
Maybe this list seems long but you need to be extensive.
If the professional is hesitates to address any of these questions. Simply move on to the next one because they are not the right choice for you.
“Many of these questions are designed to reveal the character of the business and owner”.
They must wish to respond to these concerns and offer you the composed documentation as you request.
Ones you collected satisfying answers you should go into the project details and request a project Estimate.
Here you can download a MS-Exel Project Bid Sheet Template to pass it on to your Home Improvement Contractor Prospect to complete. It will also work with the free Google Docs.
Do not let a contractor persuade you to differ from your request. Or that you do not require any of these products.
You do and it is your right to ask and have them prior to letting anybody deal with your house.
As soon as you are all set to make your choice, make sure to acquire copies of all needed documentation before signing any contract.
Latest by now definitely before project take off you should likewise inspect your property owners’ policy to see if you have protection for anybody working on your home in case someone gets hurt.
Step 4 Collecting & Comparing Estimate…let’s talk Business.
If you followed my recommendations, you should now be equipped with a minimum of 3 professional project estimates for each task.
More would be better (I usually get 5-6 from my subs) you will find out why in just a minute.
Make sure you keep an identical project scope. As well as the same to be used materials. This will enable you to compare apples to apples and find the best offer for your project.
My usual method is that I look over all estimate totals and single the highest and lowest quote out.
What leaves me with 3-4 Estimates. I now add all those estimate prices together and divide the sum by the sum of estimates included. This will give me an average price.
Next I look at what estimate is closest to this average to determine my candidate.
See the example:
Quote A: $995.00 …excluded
Quote B: $1300.00
Quote C: $1700.00 …excluded
Quote D: $1500.00
Quote E: $1400.00
Step 2 : Average price
B+D+E = $4200.00 4200:3 = $1400
Step 5 Finalize the paperwork and hire the contractor of your choice
So after double checking the details I most likely would hire the contractor that provided the “Quote E”
If a professional is unclear about costs or does not offer you exactly what you request in regards to rates or paper work. Exclude his job bid and cross them off your list.
Also, as you will find later when we produce your budget. It is always good to set a allowance for overruns.
I usually include a 20% safety to the job bid because there is always something not according to plans.
Once you collected all your job bids we can pick up our initial wish-list and add all the costs together to set a firm project budget.
This will also be a good time to make some last rate evaluations and cost saving adjustments if possible.
Basically ones you know what the project total will be, you need to decide if you comfortable with the amount of investment.
And if not, you can take a closer look at your wish-list, and decide what exactly you can do without. And remove it from the project scope.
Next you should contact your preferred Contractor and ask him to update his/her estimate. And remind him to attach any documents that you might be missing.
Once you got all the paperwork and negotiated a contract price you can move forward and hire your perfect contractor. 🙂
Again, when Signing the contract make sure you got a copy of their license, registration, and depending on the state of your residence a valid copy of their insurance certificates and W-9.
Red Flags & Warnings When Hiring Contractor
Believe me or not, I did hear some of those statements if not all first hand.
“We do not need a written agreement. A handshake is great.”
Even in some states this is still legally binding. It leaves way too much room for error. And a written document is proof. If nothing else get at least the written Estimate Signed and dated. Any contractor would want a written contract for its own protection. In case you decline to pay the balance.
Don’t let the billing advance much quicker than the project progress.
If you received a bill for a milestone in the project like for example the demolition. Make sure that the part is actually completed and done.
“We don’t need a permit or inspections”
In most states, you are required to pull a building permit. And once you have one there are required inspection that need to pass before you can continue with the project.
Typical Mile Stones for inspections are: foundation, framing, plumbing & electrical rough in, insulation, heating and cooling, and after completion of electrical & plumbing.
Keep in mind that those inspections are in place to guarantee at least a minimum of quality construction standard. Therefore Do Not let any professional encourage you otherwise.
The only time you generally do need a permit is if you are only doing cosmetics like painting or installing new flooring.
Be careful with Contractor that requests a very big deposits.
Avoid providing more than a 20% deposit unless you have signed a 3 equal payment contract. Or 50% upfront and rest on completion arrangement.
I myself require a 10% deposit to schedule your project and another deposit on the first day of work.
Usually, the second payment is a material draw to cover my material order.
“We only accept cash payments”
If you do make a cash payment require a signed receipt. On the other hand I could not think of any reason as to why a reputable business would not accept a check. And your canceled check stub is proof for your payment.
Any or all of the above should make you hesitant of this business. And you should be out searching for another professional contractor.
As you may recall, I mentioned earlier in the beginning of this chapter. The Hiring and Contract part is the most crucial step in the remodeling process.
Therefore make certain you pay your diligence. And don’t worry or fret about hurting anybody’s feelings or even anger them.
If you are dealing with a respectable outfit, they will be more than happy to comply & fulfill your requirements.
Also this is a chance to build a long-lasting relationship with a contracting company in addition to any of the subcontractors.
It will benefit all in the long run.
And you can build a reliable group of service professionals that you can get in touch with if needed.
On the flip side of the coin, the contractor will have one more happy customer for life who will most likely refer them to others.
And that is the name of the game in these days anyway.
Reading & applying my process in this chapter of the Remodeling Process will enable you. To find the perfect service professional, remodeling contractor & any other home improvement contractor for your projects. And hire the perfect contractor for you.
Now I would like to turn it over to you!
Did you learn anything new? Did I leave something out? Are you now confident enough to find the right contractor for you ?
Please comment or ask any questions below and i will do my best to reply
Thanks for reading and sharing
By the time you are reading this we may have already a a good contractor near you in our Service Pro Section. And if not you can also find professionals on services like home advisor.com just make sure to use our 5 Step Contractor Hiring Process System.