10 Pro Tips on How to Hire a Contractor

Hiring a Contractor is no small feat, and it certainly isn’t a cheap endeavor – time-wise or wallet-wise. For today’s post, I’m SO excited to collaborate with my husband, Ross! Together, we’re sharing our top 10 tips on how to hire a Contractor to ensure that your home project is as successful and pain-free as possible.

But first, a little background:

Ross is PMP Certified (a Nationally recognized Certificate for Project Managers). With over 9 years experience, he has managed commercial industrial projects across 45 states and Canada. Although commercial projects don’t directly mirror residential projects, a lot of the same principles still apply.

For me, Ross has been instrumental in talking me off a ledge on many of my construction projects. I say this jokingly, but if you’ve ever worked with a General Contractor, you know what I mean! It usually isn’t a cakewalk. If we can pass along our knowledge to you so that you can avoid some of the common pitfalls of a typical project, we will. Follow this simple strategy and you will be well on your way to a successful outcome:

  1. Get References – Hiring a Contractor is definitely not something you want to go into blindly. Check in with your neighbors to find out who’s done great work for them on a comparable project, and take a look at their final result in person.
  2. Hire a Contractor Like You’re Hiring an Employee – Most people treat the process as though they’re buying a service. But, when you consider what goes into a home reno project, this Contractor is going to be working for you for a decent amount of time. And in many cases, they’ll be collecting the equivalent of a year’s salary from you to boot.
  3. Do Your Research – If you’re like most savvy buyers these days, you’ve likely made your buying decision before making your first phone call. Look beyond sites like Home Advisor and Thumbtack, as often those sites don’t require much from Pros to use their platform.
  4. Always Obtain Multiple Quotes – Even if you know who you’re going to work with, chances are another Contractor will bring up a suggestion that others didn’t consider. Not only does this arm you with more knowledge, but it allows you to bring up the suggestion to your chosen Contractor.
  5. Request Contractor References – If no one has referred you to a trusted pro, ask the Contractor for references when they send along their quote.
  6. Call Contractor References – Seriously, this is so important! Half the time you’ll find that references are simply well-meaning family members or friends rather than happy customers. You’ll want to get a clear idea of what it’s like to work with the contractor from start to finish.
  7. Ask the Right Questions – It’s important to ask the right questions in order to prove that you’re knowledgeable. Doing so will lessen the chance of a Contractor taking advantage of you. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. How long have you been in business?
    2. How many employees will be working on the project?
    3. If not yourself, who will be the foreman on the project?
    4. What is the estimated timeframe of the project – best case, worst case?
    5. How do you handle issues that come up?
  8. Nail Down the Important Things – Clearly understand (and obtain in writing) details around Scope, Schedule, and Cost. If you nail down those three things, you can then hold your Contractor accountable.
  9. Scour Your Contracts – Make sure the details are spelled out in all contracts that are legally binding. This will protect you when something goes wrong such as:
    1. Extra, unplanned work needing to take place
    2. Some big piece from the original scope is unfinished
    3. The project runs late
  10. Expect Issues – Know that something goes wrong on every project, big or small. Let me repeat that: something always goes wrong. The whole purpose of checking references and scouring contracts is to lower the risk of the bigger issues.

Like anything else, success in Project Management comes from thorough preparation. No doubt with this simple strategy, you will be well equipped to take on your next home reno project…armed and dangerous!

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