For our customers who are contractors, finding the right contractor for the job is easy. They either look in the mirror or have a buddy who specializes in that. For homeowners, it can be a bit trickier.

We’re here with a few steps to help make the process go easier. We’ve all heard the news stories or seen Facebook posts from friends about jobs that got started and were never completed or photos of “before” compared to torn apart “during” photos with no “after” photos to follow.

When it comes to a project, a good contractor really makes all the difference. It keeps your stress down, keeps your project on a budget and keeps safety at the forefront. A lot of times, contractors can find rotted subfloors, mold damage, unsafe wiring, leaking pipes, and more because they know what should and should not be the norm in a space.

Before you start to look for a contractor, think about the project at hand. What is your end goal? If you’re wanting to update fixtures or repipe a bathroom, you’d want to hire a plumber. If you’re planning to completely gut a home and rebuild from the studs up, you’ll likely need a general contractor or multiple specialty contractors. Knowing that right off the bat, sets your project up for success.

Once you know what you need, ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. Chances are, you know someone who knows someone and if they’re sharing their information, they likely did a good job.

Once you get a few, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask to meet at the jobsite. You should feel comfortable with the person you’re hiring for the job. You can ask for references and check them out on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, Google, etc. to get a better picture of the quality of work you can expect.

At the end of the day, you need to be realistic about your availability and your budget. Knowing when you can be around or when they can have access to the space and what you’re willing to spend will be key to ensuring a completed project and keep you sane throughout the process.

If you get five estimates and four-out-of-five are around $5,000 and the fifth is only charging $1,000, chances are, that’s not the one you want to go with. It’s very likely that there are corners they’re cutting or something else at play.

If you’re hiring a General Contractor, you can ask what work will be done via subcontractors versus by their team. You want to choose the right contractor for each project. Obviously, you wouldn’t want a painter doing the plumbing and a plumber laying insulation.

Before the project starts, you do not pay more than 10% of the total and do not make the final payment until the job is actually completed.

Also, make sure you are working with a licensed contractor. They will know that most renovation projects need permits and will keep you in line with local guidelines. In addition, getting a permit means a local inspection will need to be done by the city or county, ensuring the work is up to code.

For larger projects where the contractor is buying all of the materials, you will want to ensure you have a contract and lien releases prior to starting. Let’s say you paid the full amount (which included funds for materials), but the contractor does not pay off the credit line they opened with the store. Now, the company can put a lien on your property until they are paid.

So, you’ve found the right team and prepped your home for the work to come. Keep a “cushion budget” just in case. The contractor cannot see through walls (unless they have wire cameras or x-ray scanners), so there can always be unexpected costs once the project starts. Budgeting for an extra 10-15% keeps you from a shock down the road.

We work with great customers, many of which are builders or pros by trade. You can always ask if we have someone we recommend and see if we have someone in mind.