The Dos and Don’ts of Working With a Home Improvement Contractor

The Dos and Don'ts of Working With a Home Improvement Contractor

There are only two things that you can count on in life – death and taxes. But if you can learn to work well with contractors, home improvement projects can be less of an ordeal. When comparing bids, ensure each contractor breaks down the cost of materials, labor, and profit margins. Many unscrupulous contractors will underbid and then tack on fees homeowners should have expected.


Do Your Research

You can find out a lot about a contractor from their work history. You can ask them for references and call their clients to ensure their experiences align with what the contractors say. You can also check out their licenses and insurance with the appropriate authorities. You should also request itemized quotes from multiple contractors to compare them and see what each quote includes. Materials usually account for 40 percent of total project costs; overhead and profit margins comprise the remainder. A reputable home improvement contractor Helena MT, will also include a detailed contract and schedule in their proposal. They should also provide you with deposit and escrow account information to prevent money from disappearing during your project.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Asking questions is an essential part of choosing a contractor. You want to feel comfortable discussing your project with your contractor, and you should be confident that they are not avoiding or hiding any relevant information from you. For example, you should always ask what permits are required and if they will pull them for you. You also want to ensure they have liability and worker’s compensation insurance coverage in case something goes wrong. It would help if you also asked how often the contractor will check in with you to update you on progress and find out their preferred method of communication. Asking questions is normal for competent, high-quality contractors, and they’ll respond to you quickly. If they do not, this may be a red flag.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

A good contractor will be willing to discuss a payment schedule that works for both of you. They should not, however, ask you to pay the total amount upfront before the project even begins. It could be a sign that they are struggling financially and unable to complete the work on time. A reputable contractor will only solicit you if they have extra materials and can offer a discount. They will respect your property, move things out of their way if needed, and take preventative measures to protect the furniture or other belongings that need to be worked on. Communicate daily with your contractor to ensure they are on schedule and communicating clearly. Be sure to document all conversations in writing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes

Ensuring the contractor knows what you want the project to achieve is your job as a client. A good contractor will help you design the project and provide estimates for materials and costs. A good contractor will get the necessary permits for the job. They should also include any permit fees in the estimated project cost. Changing your mind about the scope of work mid-process is understandable but not a great idea. It slows things down and can make your contractor feel frustrated. Be bold and ask your contractor for economical substitutions, but limit the number of changes to what is reasonable. The more open your communication with your contractor, the less frustration you will all experience.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Honest

Contractors want to work with clients who are easy to communicate with and respectful. Even a minor lie can poison a relationship and lead to problems later. Getting bids from several contractors is essential, but don’t automatically hire the lowest one. It could be that they’re cutting corners and using inferior materials. Also, ensure that your contract outlines all the costs associated with the project. It includes the cost of materials, labor, and a profit margin. You should also check the company’s license number, business address, and owner with your local or county department that keeps track of contractor licensing. It can help you find out if there are any complaints against them. You can file a claim against them for shoddy work if there is.