Whether you are simply getting new windows or planning an addition for your expanding family, finding a reliable competent contractor is always the first step to a satisfying and successful home improvement project. Your home is one of your most valuable assets and you want to be cautious when you are choosing someone to be working on it.
You will find many contractors that advertise on the radio, in newspapers, and on TV. However, do not just go by an add to represent the quality of the contractors work. It is always better to first try to get references from neighbors, friends, or co-workers who have had improvement projects done in their home.
Be sure to get written estimates from everyone that you are considering, and ask them for an explanation of any price variations. Do not always go with the lowest bidder.
Depending on the complexity and size of your project, you may choose to have a few different contractors for the job. A general contractor would help to manage all aspects of your project including the hiring of subcontractors and supervising them, scheduling inspections, and getting all the building permits that are required. The general contractor also works with designers and architects.
Specialty contractors will install very specific products such as bathroom fixtures and cabinets. Architects on the other hand are used for major renovations such as designing homes and additions. If your project is going to require structural changes you may also want to hire an architect that specializes in doing home remodeling.
If you are working in a specific area such as a kitchen or bath you want a designer that has expertise with that area. If you hire a build/design contractor, they provide a one-stop service. These contractors will see your project through from beginning to end. Some firms even have architects on the staff while others use specific certified designers.
You need to be careful not to be tricked into hiring a less than reputable contractor. Unfortunately not all contractors are on the up and up. Some signs to watch out for would be a contractor that is soliciting door-to-door, the contractor only accepts cash payments, they say that they have leftover materials from their previous job, and they try to pressure you into an immediate decision.
Also be wary if the contractor does not have a business number listed in the local directory, if they ask you to pay for your entire job up front, they offer you discounts for finding them other customers, and they offer unusually long guarantees.
Be sure that you interview each contractor that you are considering. Know how long they have been in business, make sure that they are registered and licensed with the state, ask them for all their references, and find out the types of insurance that they carry. Also ask if they will be using subcontractors as well.
Choosing the proper contractor to handle your home improvement project will help to save you a lot of headaches in the long run.