Are you thinking about upgrading or renovating your Wilmington area home? You probably want to hire a general contractor, especially if the project is large enough to require permits. If you’ve never hired a contractor before, we’ve put together some basic tips to help you decrease your risks and the impact on your bank account. So, let’s get started!
Outline Exactly What You Want Done
To save time and money, and to hire the person with all the skills you need, you should know exactly what you want done and your budget. Are you planning to update your kitchen? Consider if you want your cabinets upgraded or painted, which type of countertops you want installed, what flooring will be used, if you will be removing any walls (or adding any walls), and if you will be adding light fixtures. You don’t need to choose specifics, like the color of the countertops or the tile backsplash, before interviewing contractors, but the type of materials may require different installation skills and could determine how many laborers are needed, which can affect quotes. So, do your research.
Don’t Rely On the Yellow Pages
When you start your contractor search, avoid calling random listings in the Yellow Pages. First, ask friends, relatives, and neighbors if they recommend anyone. They will be able to share their personal experiences, answer your questions, and possibly allow you to see the work done. You can also request a referral from a Realtor®. They often work with contractors to complete repairs on homes and, if they haven’t worked with a contractor meeting your specific needs, they probably know someone who has.
If that doesn’t turn up any good referrals, try websites that include reviews or ratings, like Angie’s List, City Search, and Yelp. These websites allow reviews from everyone, so a user can’t trust them 100%, but you can get a pretty good idea of client experiences.
Pre-interview All Referrals
Before setting up an appointment with a contractor, you can save time and money by pre-interviewing them over the phone. Here are some tips for that pre-interview:
First, briefly explain what you’re planning to do and ask if it’s something they handle. Contractors are known to change which projects they take as the housing market changes. What may have been monetarily beneficial three years ago may not be so anymore due to labor cuts and time restraints.
Second, ask them what their current schedule is like. If they’re booked for the next month and you need the project done in a few weeks, it’s best to move on to someone else.
Third, request testimonials. A good contractor will have them or a list of previous clients that you can call and talk to. If they are unwilling to share such information, it’s possible they’re hiding something and you probably want to move on to someone else.
Fourth, get their full business name and contractor license number, and contact the North Carolina License Board for General Contractors (you can also search by name and license number on their website). They will verify the contractor’s information and the status of the license.
Have a Written Contract
Once you choose a contractor, have them create a written contract that includes every task to be completed, materials to be used, the schedule from start to completion, total costs, and a payment plan. Do not pay the total up front. If the contractor fails to deliver as planned, then you could be out of a significant amount of money. Do, however, give a reasonable down payment. 10% is standard.
Looking for more tips? Visit ConsumerReports.org.
If you’re in need of a referral or have a questions about choosing a contractor, don’t hesitate to call us. We have a list of contractors, from remodeling to roofing, that we have worked with in the past and are happy to pass on their names. You can reach us at 910.202.2546 or you can send us a message through our Contact page.