What do contractors do, exactly? What are the first steps you take when you decide to hire a contractor? What specific jobs are you looking to fulfill? Do you know how to properly assess and validate a contractor’s license?
The way people hire remodeling contractors is a bit different when compared to other service industries. Construction-based contractors are being sought after in different and ever-changing ways, and those ways aren’t always good. We want to make sure that you know the correct process for hiring contractors by comparing it to the way other service industries hire and set standards for their contractors.
But that’s not all:
Local renovation contractors should always be up to date with the latest standards and processes for a safe and trustworthy hire. While it’s easy and understandable to become tempted by the promise of low prices and hassle-free, paperwork-free transactions, this is not the ideal way to find someone who can get the job done right.
When it comes down to it, finding the right contractor is not about the money. While it’s smart to look for the most affordable and competitive prices in the area, local general contractors may use this mindset to take advantage of unsuspecting customers. Instead, you can find a home improvement contractor that will give you not only a respectable estimate, but will also explain how and why certain prices are set the way they are.
If you want a beautiful, elaborate, and unique remodeling job done on your kitchen or basement, it is essential that you know what to look for in a trustworthy contractor. Let’s compare the way other service industries hire their contractors and professionals before comparing those methods to the way the general contractor process has become.
Hiring a Professional in the Medical Industry
The General Process
Think about the last time you stopped in for a doctor’s visit. You likely went through your insurance company before deciding on the best doctor for your needs. If you are using an HMO, a doctor has been assigned to you – but you still might have done research on the doctor before making an initial appointment. With other insurance policies, you have the freedom to choose doctors that are within your network. You can call around to see which practices offer the best rates, and have the most highly-rated reviews.
But rates and reviews aren’t everything. You also want to know how much information the doctor’s office will require upfront before you invest in this doctor. Do they simply ask you to fill out a single page with your name, number, and address? If so, does that seem fishy to you? Other doctor’s offices may require numerous pages of paperwork to fill out before your initial appointment, which can ask for information such as medical history, lists of allergies, any current ailments, and your insurance information.
What to Expect with General Contractors
This doctor-searching method can be easily translated to the process of how to find a contractor. A contractor estimate is much like a medical estimate at a new doctor’s office. You will want to require a full run-down of the services and procedures involved during the home renovation project.
In fact, you should demand that the contractor explain why the estimate is priced the way it is, and what factors contribute to the cost of labor and materials. Do doctors charge you for an initial appointment? Is there a free or no-cost option for consultations? Conversely, are there any local general contractors that offer the same kind of deal? Can you find a home improvement expert that will provide you with a fair and free assessment?
Hiring a Professional in the Food Industry
The General Process
Are you hungry right now?
If so, think about the food you are craving. Do you want a big, juicy cheeseburger? Are you looking for the perfect pasta? Do you need something quick that you can bring home to your family?
After deciding what to eat, think about the natural process you would go along to find the perfect type of food that you are in the mood for. Just like home remodeling and general contracting, price is not the sole factor that determines what kind of food you will choose.
If you are going on price alone, then you would probably just order from McDonald’s or Wendy’s every day, for every meal. But you may not always be in the mood for fast food, even if it is the cheapest option. This emphasizes the important fact that price is really not the only determining factor for deciding upon an item or service that works best for you.
You should consider other options when choosing the perfect food experience, such as:
- What is the quality of the food? Is the food made with organic, local, healthy, or all-natural ingredients? Does the food make you feel good when you eat it? Is it processed with harmful chemicals or HMOs?
- What is the atmosphere of the restaurant like? Do you like a quiet, relaxing restaurant? Do you want to sit on a romantic patio with dim lights pleasant sounds? The quality of a restaurant’s environment and atmosphere can play a heavy role in your enjoyment of the food.
- How is the food service at the restaurant? Are there personal attendants who make you feel special during the course of your meal? Are you met with friendly staff members who check in on you to make sure your food is made to satisfaction?
What to Expect with General Contractors
A contractor estimate should be a lot like determining the quality and comfort of the food you are seeking. A good general contractor will be able to provide you with not only a reasonable price, but with friendly and comfortable service, an informative explanation of services, and the highest-quality materials and experiences available.
You want no less when it comes to renovating a part of your home. The project should result in a beautiful and professional remodeling project – one that you will be completely satisfied with. From cost of the project to labor and materials use, you want your contractor to be professional and up front on every level.
Hiring a Professional in the Travel Industry
The General Process
Planning the vacation of your dreams can sometimes be a more complicated and involved process than you think. With an experienced travel agent, your vacation project can become much less of a headache and more focused on the fun parts.
There are many factors involved in deciding where to go for your vacation, and for how long you want your vacation to last. Of course, price is one of the biggest concerns. How much do you have to spend? What is your annual vacation budget? Do you want to go somewhere elaborate where you are willing to spend some money, or do you prefer something low-budget but still enjoyable?
Although it does play a huge role, cost is still not the sole factor that you should consider when planning the perfect vacation. If going on cost and temperature preferences alone, your vacation plans could end up taking you to somewhere like southern Florida, which was recently devastated by a hurricane. Plus, depending on where you live, you may need to spend time driving there (to save on airline ticket costs). As soon as you get there, how much fun would you be able to have? How many days of the vacation would you have to enjoy Florida, after you subtract the amount of days it takes to drive back and forth? Is there a way you could have planned it more efficiently?
The short answer is: Yes!
If you visit a travel agent or consult with any kind of travel professional, you may be asked several of the following questions?
- What destinations do you have in mind?
- Do you want to go somewhere warm like a beach, cold like a mountain, or foreign, like a city in Europe?
- What method of travel do you want to use to get there?
- What is your average budget?
- What kind of accommodations do you want to receive while you are there?
- Are you traveling by yourself, or with your family? Are there kids involved?
All of these are valid and important questions for planning the perfect vacation. When translated into the local renovation contractors’ world, you want to keep the same mindset. Ask yourself many of the above questions, but in relation to your basement or kitchen project, rather than a vacation destination.
What to Expect with General Contractors
When hiring the general contractor of your dreams, think of it as if you are planning your favorite vacation.
- What are your budgetary concerns?
- What kind of enjoyment are you looking to have from your newly renovated room?
- Do you want something elegant and stylistic, or are you looking for something more functional that can be used as a play center and a game room?
Contractor estimate forms rely heavily on communication between yourself and the contractor in question. The estimate should be able to explain the costs, materials, and processes involved in achieving your dream project.
Don’t take a contractor’s word for it; instead, you should thoroughly investigate and learn about all of the professional services involved. That way, you can guarantee that you will receive the service you deserve. Your local general contractors should be able to treat your home as if it was a dream vacation, a perfect restaurant, or even the most efficient primary care doctor experience.
The Remodeling Contractor Mindset
Now, let’s tie all of this into the remodeling world. When it comes to details, the more the merrier.
Imagine that you were a general contractor for a living. If a customer calls you and says, “I would love to have my basement remodeled! How much would that cost?”, it would be truly difficult to give a fair and accurate estimate since no details were given. Instead, you would ask your potential new client to describe the current state of the basement, to explain what they are trying to achieve, and to talk about their budgetary and material-based concerns. The more information they give, the more accurate and drawn-up your estimate is going to be.
Again, don’t rely simply on price to determine if a general contractor is right for you. If you immediately go with the cheapest local renovation contractors in the area, you might end up with a cheap, shoddy, sparsely-improved basement. You will be overall dissatisfied, and you may regret not asking the contractor for more information up front.
As a general rule of thumb, there are several crucial factors to check off of your mental checklist before deciding on the right contractor. If you shop around and ask about all of the following features, you might have a better idea of the right way to hire a contractor:
1. Is there a warranty? Asking this question up front is important. If something goes wrong during the remodeling project, or if the materials fall apart afterward, you can have a better peace of mind knowing that you are insured. A warranty guarantees that the contractor estimate includes coverage if something is damaged, broken, or done completely wrong.
2. What is the quality of service like? Just like visiting a restaurant, you will want to make sure that the home renovation contractor can offer friendly, professional, and well-informed service. The best experts have years of experience in their field, and should be able to answer all of your questions and concerns fully. A contractor who is unable to answer your questions might not be the best pick for your room remodeling project, no matter how simple or complex it is.
3. What kind of remodeling experience do you want to have? Are you the hands-on kind of person? Do you want to have a little bit of management authority during certain parts of the remodeling process? Or do you prefer for the experienced and trustworthy individual to take charge? If so, then you should find out what kind of experience and journey preferences a contractor has. Some general contractors like to take matters into their own hands, while others are excited to work with you to help you achieve the room of your dreams.
4. Are there positive customer reviews? Many websites, such as Yelp, Facebook, Google+, and even the contractor’s own page is likely full of customer reviews and ratings. It is essential to check these ratings before investing in a contractor. Anybody who is rated less than 4 out of 5 starts may not be the best choice for your home remodeling needs. What does a general contractor do to maintain high ratings and satisfied clients? They provide excellent quality and service, they are licensed and insured, and they can give you a rundown on the best estimates in your area.
5. Are they Licensed, Bonded, and Insured? This is perhaps one of the most important parts of vetting a general contractor. Make sure to check a contractor’s license and certification fully before inviting them on board. Many scam contractors will be unable to provide proof of a license or insurance when you ask. A home improvement contractor license (or any general contractor license for that matter) will be a bonded representation of the person’s skills, certifications, experiences, and readiness to do any kind of job. Do not ever invest in a company or