What’s important when selecting a contractor
When you find a contractor there’s so many things going on in your mind; can I trust them in my home, will they take the money and run, how do I know they will do a good job?
- How quickly do they respond to your call,
- set up an appointment with you & how timely is getting your estimate back (a telling signal to their normal response on the project).
We have access to technology to provide us with contractors but do you ever dream of a simpler time? Think back to 1960 when you could ask a neighbor for a recommendation. Or better yet, only having one contractor in the whole town.
As technology has made it easier to find a contractor, it’s made it harder to know if you can trust them. Before you hire a contractor for your next project, here are somethings to consider.
HOW TO PREPARE
Starting online will get you in front of the largest amount of contractors and from there you can narrow it down. There’s a few great places you should start online, and these are in no particular order.
Where to look for contractors
Angie’s List is a great place to start because it is geared towards homeowners who have multiple projects or job in mind, from plumbers to flooring contractors. The website has been around for years so the profiles you will find should have lots of great photos and reviews. Try to find those profiles that show recent activity, and lots of great pictures from past jobs.
Most people think of Yelp for your next lunch spot or date night but you will find service based businesses as well. You should look for profiles that have photos, descriptions of the business and reviews.
Check for multiple reviews
When reading reviews on any site, whether it be Angie’s List, Yelp or Google, pay special attention to the bad reviews. Look to how the business owner responded, did they keep it professional or were they accusatory? Was it a picky, venting customer or did the contractor put the homeowner in a bad position? There’s always two sides to each story so don’t be afraid of a few bad reviews, and how they respond says a lot about the integrity of the business.
These days we start online, but asking your neighbors can be a great resource many homeowners don’t immediately think of. The nice thing about personal recommendations is that they will have already vetted the contractor on their own; you will get to hear each step of the job. If they are friendly, they may invite you in to see the work for yourself.
You don’t have to walk next door with cookies to meet your neighbors and ask for a recommendation. There’s a new community called Nextdoor full of everyone in a close radius to your address. Think of it as the online community bulletin board.
Verify licensed and bonding and proper insurance
Once you’ve asked around and found potential contractors, look up if they are license or bonded. Why is this important? The license verifies that the contractor has had some training or certification in the field. And the bonding ensures that if anything goes horribly wrong, you can submit a claim against the bond rather than paying for the remainder of the job yourself.
GFS is licensed, bonded and insured. ROC #296456 & ROC #297719.
Once you call a few contractors and share details about your job, don’t be afraid to ask for references of previous jobs like yours. Ask for the date of the job as well to ensure they are actively running this business, not just a weekend contractor.
UNDERSTANDING THE ESTIMATES AND BIDS
Now it’s time to request bids on your project. Everyone contractor’s bid will look slightly different from the next. Some contractors simply conduct their business in a different manner than others. Let’s walk through the general bidding process and what you might expect.
There are two pieces of the bid, the time or labor involved and the material needed.
Time and material
Included in the labor estimate will be any prep work needed. If you are looking to create a new custom bathroom this prep work takes into account the toilet being taken out, the old tile being removed, the disposal of the tile, any relocation of plumbing, etc. This is assuming that there were no hidden issues like mold or the bad work of the person who have previously installed the bathroom. That may come up as the job progresses.
The biggest prep work, and often the most unconsidered, is preparing the subfloor. Any cracks found in the foundation will need to be filled. The floor will also be measured for levelness. Even a slight incline or decline could cause your shower floor to mold due to water pooling in certain raised areas.
Things to consider
Other considerations for time or labor estimates should be the company’s years of expertise, the quality of the work, the attention to detail and caliber of the installers.
A good rule of thumb is to receive 2-3 bids. Try to look beyond the price because each contractor has different skills. One might be more expensive but they have the knowledge and strong reputation. Another bid might be cheaper but they are not licensed and don’t manage their installers to do everything to code.
A hidden gem of a contractor will be one that has a good eye for design. It’s very helpful getting an expert’s opinion on the design aspect so you don’t have to have everything figured out. Things like what backsplash will match the tile, or what grout color to choose.
Congratulations! You’ve found a reputable contractor, accepted his bid, and you’re ready to start the project. You should have a written copy of the agreement you are about to enter.
If there’s fine print on the agreement make sure to spend some time reading it, this is a big purchase. Some things you might see on the fine print are the finer details like whether or not the tile will be sealed, any surcharges for credit card payment or liabilities.
Sign the agreement and keep a copy with both of signatures for your records.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At this point you should have agreed on a timeline. Contractors have several projects going on at once so don’t be surprised if you don’t start tomorrow, but you should have a plan.
Establish start time and a finish date, then purchase materials
Once the agreement is signed and the start date is set, it’s a good time to begin sourcing the materials. At Gainey Flooring the design process is the most exciting. During the estimation process we can talk about how to make the new flooring/shower updates work for your home.
I have several recommendations for places to visit around the valley. Together we can visit the showroom to discuss different material options, what’s trending and what will work in your home. The GFS will arrange all the shipping to your home.
If you have a specific material in mind, always be prepared with a plan b. You might learn that the product is sold out, or or not available for several months.
COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR CONTRACTOR
Starting day has finally arrived. Your contractor should be communicating with you who the installers are, what time they plan to arrive, and how long they will stay each day. It’s important to keep your project on schedule, but having installers in and out of the house until 9PM is unrealistic. Don’t be afraid to express those boundaries.
If you have any concerns at all – about your install team, how they are working, the progress of the job- don’t be afraid to communicate that with your contractor. This is a big investment and they should understand and be mindful of your concerns.
These are just some of the thoughts, items and moments you will find yourself in during the process of a renovation. For any questions, contact Gainey Flooring Solutions for more information.