the Right Professionals
to hire a professional contractor
of this article.)
a local licensed contractor who has a good track record in your type
of project. Any contractor working on a job
with a total cost of over $500 must be licensed by the Contractor's
State License Board. The CSLB and your local BBB will be able to tell
you anything negative. Your contractor should carry both worker's compensation
insurance, required by law, and sufficient general liability insurance,
not required but absolutely necessary.
The individual you are seeking is someone you trust to give you the
fairest price for the level of quality you want. This translates into
shopping for the contractor, not the price. Gather names of contractors
who fit your criteria.
Now make some calls. Be prepared to answer the following questions
when you call the contractors: Description of the project, square footage,
desired start date, and preliminary budget. Your budget figures, at
this point, should not include the design professional's fees or your
20% reserve fund, only what is left for the project itself. The contractor
will let you know if he or she is interested and if their company is
appropriate for the job. If you feel comfortable talking to this person
over the phone, make an appointment to meet
for your meeting. Be prepared with a set of preliminary plans. Prioritize
your wish list in terms of space and finishes. Know what quality of
finishes you want and how your choices impact the cost of the project,
i.e. the general difference in price between tile and granite countertops
or good, better and best tubs. Be consistent with each contractor. Now
is not the time to redesign the preliminary plan. The purpose of this
meeting is to determine how well you can work with this person. Resist
the temptation to ask for a bid until you have made your choice. Remember
to ask for client, bank and business/trade references.
Analyze your meeting with the contractor. Was the individual
punctual, courteous, professional, neat and confident; an attentive
listener, responding with appropriate questions and good suggestions?
Did you understand all of the conversation? Were you comfortable? Did
you come away from the meeting with trust in this individual's abilities,
competence and company? Your answers to the above questions should all
be positive before you proceed to the next step. If any are negative,
all of the references the contractor has given you.
Prepare a sheet for each reference with these questions and room for
Was this a competitive bid or negotiated project? Were you able to achieve
your budget for the project? Were the contract, description of work
and price complete? Were you surprised by extra charges and change orders?
Was the crew punctual, responsible, reliable, neat and clean? Was the
site kept as safe and clean as possible? How was communication between
you, the workers and contractor? Were you kept informed of job progress
and the need for decisions? Were there any problems and how were they
handled? Would you hire this company again? May I call you back to schedule
a visit to your home?
Make Your Decision. Since you have followed all the rules to
select a good contractor, you should have encountered one who will do
a good job with your project. Just remember that at some point in every
remodeling project you will be sick and tired of the whole thing and
just want it over and everybody out of your home. Think of that day
and decide who can go on with you for all the days until it is finally
done. Now you can finish planning your project with your team of designer,
contractor and you; all working together to create a finished product
that meets your needs and your budget.
Remodeling where do I start?