Are They All Created Equal? Finding the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

First off, kudos to you for making the decision to go with a professional contractor. Many DIY projects go astray when the homeowner gets in over their head, and as any DIY pro will tell you, you’ve got to be able to recognize when your skills just aren’t up to the task. Whether you just purchased a home or want to give your current humble abode a face-lift, there are contractors all over Honolulu rearing and ready to go. However, finding a reliable contractor will require a little bit of work on your end.

Get That Bid

While it might be tempting to go with the first contractor that comes along, the basic rule of thumb is to get at least three bids or estimates. Most estimates come free of charge to the homeowner, so why not take advantage? Opt for contractors in the Honolulu area, as you are more likely to find neighbors and acquaintances that have used that particular company before. While some contractors prefer to give you a single price for your home improvement project, it leaves you completely clueless as to what they are charging for each part of the job. Ask for an itemized bid that outlines each step of the project so you know what you are paying for. In addition, you might find that some of the steps can be done on your own and for a much cheaper price.

Test Their Trust

As you bring in contractors to supply their bids, you have to put them to the test. With any person you bring into your home whether it is a contractor, repairman, or a babysitter, you want them to be trustworthy. Start by asking these basic questions:

  • Have you completed a similar job?
  • Do you have a list of references I can contact?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have proof of licensure?
  • What is your permanent business address?
  • When can you start?

Any good contractor will be more than happy to answer your questions in detail. The success of their business is dependent upon gaining customers so making sure you are happy and comfortable should be their top priority.

Have It in Writing

Once you’ve chosen your contractor, make sure to get a contract in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Avoid signing the dotted line until you read through it completely and make sure it has all the necessary elements. It should outline the scope of the work in great detail, including any specifications or requests you made. While you may have discussed the additional trim on the phone or via email, if it isn’t in the contract, the price you are quoted is inaccurate. Make sure there is an estimated work duration so you can ensure the work is being done quickly and effectively, as well as an agreed upon payment schedule. You should never pay for work up front; payments should be made based on work milestones or percentages of completion.

Getting a contract is all fine and dandy, but do you know what kind it is? A fixed-price agreement means your contractor will complete the work based on the agreed upon price, creating a clearly defined scope of work and project predictability. However, unforeseen changes or requested additions will come at an additional cost to you. With a time and material’s agreement, the contractor will give you an hourly rate and your cost will be based upon the cost of materials plus labor. While this option gives you more flexibility to change plans or designs, you could end up over budget if the price goes beyond the estimate.

When you are looking for the right home contractor, take your time. This isn’t a race to the finish line and you want to make sure you are hiring the right person for the job. Do your research and get the necessary paperwork, and your home improvement project will be done in no photo