Choosing a good contractor is crucial to a successful remodel. Many people say hiring a contractor causes them more stress and anxiety than the actual remodel. How do you know if you found a good contractor vs. a bad one? Who can you trust to do a good job, at a fair price? What should you look out for when vetting contractors for your project? You can learn to spy the gotchas of choosing a remodeling contractor if you take the time to do your homework.
The Important Role of a Contractor
The contractor you hire to oversee your remodel is responsible for managing all aspect of the project, including:
- Scheduling and budgeting.
- Purchasing materials.
- Hiring tradespeople.
- Orchestrating the entire building process, from design to completion.
If you’ve spent any time searching for a contractor, you know there are a lot to choose from. That doesn’t mean they’re all the right one for you. In fact, some of them may not be right for anyone. As in any business, there are bad apples who’ve been known to “take the money and run.” Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a bad contractor vs. a good one.
Good Contractor vs. Bad Contractor
We’ll start with the shady, unethical, or downright awful traits of a bad contractor that aren’t always dead giveaways, especially if the contractor himself is very likeable:
- He waffles about putting items in the contract, saying they’re only “little details.” Wants to do a “handshake deal.”
- He asks for a deposit without openly displaying his process and offering to show you a schedule for your project.
- He seems to be over-promising, offering you an incredible price and fast delivery.
A good contractor, on the other hand:
- Will agree to put everything in writing, even the smallest of details.
- Will be forthright about his availability. There’s no need to pressure you, because he really is that busy.
- Will be realistic and honest about scheduling and budgeting.
Who Do You Trust?
In the end, you must be able to fully trust that the contractor you hire will deliver the home remodeling job you envisioned. It’s not enough to hope everything will go alright – you need to take an active part in making sure it does. As with all things in life, the great things don’t just appear. You have to put in the time and effort if you want to get the reward! Here are three basic must-haves in any contractor you’re considering.
Portfolio and Work History
All good contractors have a portfolio of some of their past projects. The more experience the contractor has, the better, has long as he has the great reviews and credentials, too. Contractors with a great work history have usually proven their abilities over time.
Different states, counties, cities, and towns all have different laws and regulations that govern contractors. A good contractor in St. Louis has all the necessary licenses, registration, and insurance coverage required by law. The best are affiliated with industry organizations such as the NAHB and NKBA.
A good contractor and the people he hires conduct themselves in a professional manner, treating your home and property with respect. The company will have good organization and structure, and the contractor will work closely with you to ensure all aspects of your remodeling project run on time and budget. Professional remodelers also have offices and support staff, not an answering machine.
Good contractors also make sure there are legal documents that protect both you as the client and them as the contractor. His payment schedule is based on progress milestones, not timeframes, and reputable companies rarely ask for 50% down, unless it is a small project; 30% to 35% is more the norm.
Finding a good contractor, then, involves verifying credentials, checking references, and looking at previous projects. Warning signs that you’re dealing with a bad contractor include incompetence, asking for a large deposit upfront, difficulty in reaching them, and few, if any client testimonials or reviews.
At J.T. McDermott, we want you to feel 100 percent sure that you’ve chosen the right design-build firm and contractor for your remodeling project. We are happy to give you a list of references from satisfied customers, and we invite you to check out our reviews on Houzz. We also provide you with authentic customer feedback in the form of client testimonials, online reviews, and survey results from an unbiased consumer survey company, GuildQuality.
To learn more about all we do to make your St. Louis remodeling experience an enjoyable one, schedule a conversation with us today. We look forward to meeting you!
Ron is the resident numbers cruncher, helping clients meet their budget and get the remodel they’ve dreamed of. He considers himself the “man behind the curtain” who’s always looking out for the best interests of the client.