Your home is ready for a serious renovation. There’s only one problem: You aren’t sure whom to trust with your project.

Finding the right contractor or skilled professional for any property facelift can be challenging. After all, you want a great outcome. At the same time, you may need to be in the same space during construction. For instance, if you’re a telecommuter, you could end up sharing hours in your “safe zone” with one or more strangers. And that can be a stressful thought.

The good news is that it’s possible to find the perfect individual for your next one-time job or massive rehab. Just use this handy guide to find the best fit.

1. Seek out contractor reviews online.

If you’ve never hired someone before, you don’t have to walk into the experience alone. You don’t even have to ask a friend for a referral. Instead, go to a trusted site like Angi to read reviews about vetted professionals. Some portals allow you to submit information request forms for free, too. You’ll be matched with several pros and can proceed from there.

2. Interview potential contractors in person.

Let’s say you want someone to renovate your master bathroom. You would want the person to visit your home, not just exchange images and price quotes via text. After all, this individual will be ripping out and replacing an important room. When you’re face-to-face with someone, you have a better chance of knowing if you’re going to be comfortable moving forward. Plus, you can ask better impromptu questions. Typically, you can expect to interview two contractors for mid-sized projects and at least three contractors for larger ones.

3. Ask for the contractor’s recent references—and call them.

It’s important to verify that what an independent contractor tells you is on the up-and-up. One method can be to ask for references from three customers. Gather the references and make phone calls. Find out if the contractor came in at the quoted budget and if the tasks were done on time. Another good question to ask is: “Would you hire this professional again?” Ideally, you’ll want to receive responses that leave you feeling confident. Remember: One study found that checking references resulted in 94% of people feeling satisfied with outcomes. So make this a priority.


4. Get quotes in writing.

We’re well past the era of a handshake sealing a deal. Too much litigation stems from “verbal contracts.” Consequently, insist upon a quote for your project in writing, preferably on the contractor’s letterhead or with a signature. The quote should be all-inclusive, noting any materials that you will provide. Many bids will also include expected timeframes for scheduling purposes. Gather quotes from your top independent contractor contenders so you can weigh them later.

5. Take a peek at each contractor’s finished projects.

Independent contractors should be excited to show off what they’ve done for past clients. Beware of anyone who says, “Oh, I don’t have any pictures to show you.” Instead, find someone who has a phone filled with images to share. Be certain to consider whether the outcomes match what you picture in your head, though. If you don’t like what you see in the photographs, you might not like what you see in your house, either.

6. Request insurance and licensing information.

What happens if your contractor does a lousy job or makes a huge mistake that damages your property? How about if the contractor gets hurt? These are realities in the world of professional tradespeople, and they’re why insurance and licenses exist. Therefore, ask to see proof of licensing and insurance before anyone begins work on your property. Otherwise, you may have trouble recouping money if something goes wrong.

contractor, group engineer, architect checking construction plan in laptop computer and blueprint on new project with tools on desk in construction site building, contractor, architectural, construction concept

7. Find out who will be working on your project.

You’ve met an independent contractor you like. The quote fits into your budget and the projected start time meets your needs. Yet on the first day, someone else shows up at your door. What gives? Your independent contractor might have hired a subcontractor without telling you. And you might not feel at all at ease with that person, especially since you’ve never met. You can avoid this scenario by asking about the people you can expect to be in your house. Don’t feel shy about asking about their backgrounds and expertise. Are they green? A relative of the contractor? Will insurance cover them, too?

8. Know your roles and responsibilities.

One of the easiest ways to shave money off a home improvement project is by purchasing materials or doing some work yourself. With that being said, talk to your top contractors about your options. Many contractors want to purchase everything themselves so they can control the results. Others may be fine with you picking up needed items. But you’ll want to outline expectations before any work begins. That way, you’ll have far fewer stumbling blocks or awkward moments.

Nothing feels as great as finding an independent contractor who can exceed your wildest hopes. Take your time and begin the vetting process weeks before you hope to start any job. The more effort you put into evaluating candidates, the better your chance of finding one who wows you.

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