Finding a contractor in a high-growth city like Denver can be the opposite of easy. Many of them have jobs booked well in advance, so it’s essential to do your research and start gathering bids as early as possible. Knowing what’s in store will help you go in with a plan. Here are some things to consider when hiring a contractor.
Dos/Don’ts for Working with a Contractor
Get three separate bids. This may be difficult because everyone’s so busy, but it’s worth it, especially on larger or more complicated jobs. You’ll learn a lot and get a more thorough understanding of the work by talking with different people. And chances are you’ll get a better deal by making the extra effort.
Consider the work and the services you need. Contractors are not designers, but some of them offer the service in-house. But you may want to hire an architect or a designer to help you develop the plans for your vision. Here’s a nice writeup on the differences and factors you’ll want to consider when you decide who to hire.
Check references. This is an easy step to skip, but you’ll be better off hearing from other homeowners who’ve had experience with your contractor, and most people are happy to talk and give you insight.
Ensure Your Contractor is licensed, bonded, insured — and current. They should be able to provide you with a copy of their license, and you can check the state’s website here.
Ask for receipts and keep records of your communications. Start a file.
Check their rep. Consumer Reports provides a few good sites to find out more and you can check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure no complaints. Yelp is always helpful too.
Ask about a backup plan in case something goes awry. For example, what if they can’t finish the job for some reason? Understanding the risks up front is better than living through a Denver winter with a giant hole in your kitchen.
Permits should be in their name. If they balk at this, it’s a red flag.
Agree to a payment schedule. Don’t pay for all the work up front, obviously.
Include a termination clause in your contract. If they’re awful, or if something goes wrong, you can cut ties more easily.
Check in and visit them frequently to make sure things are headed in the right direction and details are being addressed to your understanding and liking.
Be a good collaborator! This is important! Don’t make them wait too long on your decisions, and try to avoid significant changes in the plans when things are underway. This will help them do their job right and keep on schedule — and will help you maintain positive relations with your contractor by not driving them crazy.
Need a referral or a second opinion? Please feel free to get in touch. I keep a roster of service people to call upon and am happy to make introductions. Or if you just have questions about the return on investment for a particular job when it comes time to sell your Denver house, I’m happy to address that too. Contact me now and we’ll set up a time to talk.
Have fun and happy renovating! Renovations can be fun, but they are disruptive, so it pays to do your research, have a plan, and work with good people so you can avoid the many pitfalls and headaches that can come up.