Hi everyone out in cyber land!!
Just off the heels of the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Show, I felt compelled to share a few pointers that may help you get to the short list when seeking a contractor. Whither it’s remodeling, repair, decorating or landscaping, following a few rules can help you avoid an unpleasant and costly mistake. Now in fairness I have shared this info before but I do feel it bears repeating.
When seeking a professional to complete a project on your home consider the following:
- Time in business. A company or firm with a long established reputation can tell you a lot about their business practices. I will caution you how ever to follow up on information you receive from a potential contractor. Two principles who each have say, 25 years experience in a given trade may offer a 50 years in business answer but it’s simply not the same as legitimately being “in business”. A firm that has been in business in excess of 10 years will have a track record “good or bad” that can be followed up on.
- Affiliations. Check out who the potential contractor is affiliated with. Milwaukee NARI, the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, ect. Typically, trade associations and watchdog type groups will offer some info on their members. They may also offer specific remedies for issues that arise, like mediation or arbitration services. While no one wants to consider these services when entering into a project contract, they may become invaluable in the event something goes south.
- References. Ask for them and check them out. Too many times references are given, but never followed up on. Although it would be ludicrous to assume that a contractor would give you bad references to call, asking the right questions can shed light on what to expect from a contractor should you choose to employ him. Questions like; ”how was the daily clean up” or “did they follow up on questions” ? May offer insight to what was important to that client and if the values of the company align with yours.
- Trust your gut. There are many different personalities in clients and contractors. Feeling comfortable with a contractors style and demeanor offers a wealth of information. If there are conflicts throughout a project, your comfort level will be far better served by someone who thinks and communicates in a similar style to your own. Also remember that some projects can go on for months, getting along is not a given, so treat the project as a short term marriage and pick your partner wisely.
- Look at past work. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but I have just one… “Photoshop” . Looking at physical projects may seem like a lot of work but that’s where the rubber hits the road. If you’re considering a project in the five digit category , looking at some past work can really help your comfort level.
Good Luck!! Nick, “the Construction Guru”