Hiring a contractor is a difficult undertaking. Contractors are busy today, there is a lack of supplies, and there is a shortage of labor, to name a few challenges confronting a homeowner looking to engage a contractor for a renovation or significant repair. However, you are investing a significant amount of money in your house and want the project done effectively, under budget, and on schedule.

A professional contractor will recognize the significance of your property and improvements to you. They will understand that you have many questions and that you want to be able to trust the firm that is working on your most important asset. If they are unable or unwilling to answer your inquiries, they are not the contractor for you; on to the next!

1. Request references. Yes, references from friends and family are always a good idea, and when selecting a contractor, you want to hear from individuals you already trust. What questions did they forget to ask in the start is a nice question to ask others. Take it a step further by speaking with neighbors you may not know but who have recently engaged a contractor for a large job. General contracting work is done at the local level, using local labor and supplies that are primarily obtained locally. Local contractors should be knowledgeable with local building rules and should be nearby in case of an emergency.

Check references, internet reviews, and BBB ratings once you have received recommendations. Ratings do not have to be flawless, but the great majority should be of the highest quality. If there are enough reviews, anticipate a few worse ratings from folks who are never pleased. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, make phone calls before organizing face-to-face appointments for estimations. You should inquire about previous projects similar to yours that they have completed, as well as the magnitude of those projects. You should inquire whether they can give financial references for suppliers and banks who support their work. It’s also a good opportunity to inquire about their workload and whether they can accommodate your project. This is a good moment to ask them to provide you images of work they’ve done similar to yours. You may also inquire about the length of time they have worked with their subcontractors.

Next, have a face-to-face meeting. Choose three or four contractors to meet with for estimates and more conversation. A contractor should be able to effectively answer your inquiries and make you feel at ease dealing with them.

2. Be prepared for punctuality. Contractors are frequently chastised for failing to arrive on time and failing to complete jobs on time. This process starts with a face-to-face encounter. Don’t give them a second opportunity if they don’t show up or contact ahead of time with a valid reason for postponing. If they are more than 10 minutes late, they had better have a very excellent excuse. If you allow timeliness to slip from the start, you can anticipate it as they work on your project, and it will get worse the longer you wait.

Take note of how they seem when you meet. If the person you’re seeing is also a worker, you may anticipate them to be dressed for the job and a little grimy. But did they clean up a little, or are their hands unclean and their feet bringing garbage into your home? The car they drive also reveals a lot about their organization and attention to detail. If it’s full of garbage, fast-food containers, and papers, you can anticipate the same when they’re working on your house. Take your time throughout the interview process to properly vet each contractor before making a decision or signing any documents.

3. Have a well-defined project ready. It may take one or two meetings to discuss the project’s design and scope, but don’t formally employ a contractor until the project is fully specified. Allow him or her to check on the availability of a specific material or the timetable of a contractor before you commit. If you believe that if the kitchen renovation goes well, you will follow up with a master bath makeover, it is good to discuss this with the contractor, but make it plain that the second project will be a new project with a separate contract once the first is well done. You may need to make some small modifications after the job begins, but the better specified it is from the start, the better your working relationship with the contractor will be.

4. Determine who any subcontractors will be. It is advantageous when the contractor’s team have all of the necessary abilities for the full project. This allows them the greatest amount of control over the budget and timetable. If subcontractors will be used, you should know who they are, if they are licensed, and whether they are insured. In addition, insist on the contractor obtaining and delivering lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. If they do not pay their debts, lien releases protect you.

5. Inquire about any other projects they are working on right now. This will depend on the size of the firm, but you should have this discussion. After you’ve gotten a sense of how much work they can perform concurrently, ask concrete questions such, “How will you tackle my task while also handling these other jobs?” Schedule changes increase your expenditures and hassle. Even if it’s simply having to go out every meal because your kitchen is being rebuilt.

6. Review the contract thoroughly. Never begin a project or make a payment until you have a written and signed contract. Many small contractors choose not to deal with contracts. These are frequently the same contractors who do not bother to be licensed, bonded, or pull permits. And don’t just sign anything the contractor hands you. For a huge project, expect to go through several drafts. If the contract is written by the contractor, you should presume that it primarily protects his or her interests. Read and comprehend those sections thoroughly. Everything in a contract is critical. It must cover materials, scheduling, quality, warranties, and so forth. Penalties and pay schedules must be clear and simple to comprehend. If necessary, get it evaluated by an attorney.

7. Confirm correct license. Obtain any necessary license numbers. The majority of them may be confirmed online with the issuing government body. Most areas will not allow them to pull permits if they are not licensed. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of possible issues. They may not be up to date on local construction codes if they do not have a license, and their work will not pass inspection (even if you pull the permits). Finally, you will be responsible for any repairs required to fulfill the requirement.

8. Use tried-and-true payment methods. You never pay the entire amount up advance. Once the contract is signed and the work is ready to begin, it is best practice to pay around one-third of the expected expenditures. All checks should be made payable to a corporation rather than an individual. When ordering specific supplies, it may be essential to pay for these at the time the contract is signed in some situations. Following the initial payment, a clear plan for any milestone payments should be established. The contract should provide intermittent milestones. For example, a second payment is expected after demolition and the installation of the new kitchen floor but before piping begins. The final payment is done only once you are completely happy and all inspections have passed.

9. Ask one-of-a-kind questions about what is important to you. Your particular project and expectations should generate specific questions that you want addressed before signing the contract. You might be interested in learning how the job site will be cleaned at the conclusion of each day and at the end of the project. You might be interested in knowing when days certain subcontractors will be in your house. You might be interested to know that everyone that comes to your house has been subjected to a background check. You might be curious about who will have access to your house. If you did not specify specific materials, you may wish to know what industry standards will be applied. You might wish to place some limits on where they can go within your residence.

10. What communication will take place before, during, and after the project? Do you want a written report every day or every week? Will verbal updates suffice, or will they need to be more frequent? Do you require a 24-hour notice as well as the names of any subcontractors who will be present? How frequently do you want to check on the work and progress? How will any changes to work orders or poor work be communicated? Expecting the unexpected should be a component of every home improvement project. You want to know who will communicate with whom and how this will be done throughout the project.