1) Check references and reviews. A lot of people don’t realize that Angie’s List is free for contractors to use. Any contractor can post his services on their list but the reviews are what count. Only paying members can post reviews so they are very accurate.
2) A contractor scheduling your job a week after you accept his estimate is not always a good thing. I know, I know. We all want our jobs to be done quickly but a contractor being too quick to schedule means that he/she doesn’t have much work or isn’t ordering your materials properly. Cabinet orders take weeks to receive and oftentimes, materials are put on backorder by the manufacturer. Be weary of a contractor who is quick to schedule and even quicker to take your money.
3) Never use a contractor who expects you to pay in full – up front. This might be the most important tip. You don’t pay your doctor before he sees you and you don’t pay for new tires before you see them. A typical payment schedule (the one we use) is as follows:
-50% at signing – this covers material cost and allows us to start the ordering process as well as putting you into our scheduling.
-40% at the time of cabinet install or tile install – this covers labor costs and allows us to pay our contractors for their time
-10% at completion – once you’re satisfied with your project!
4) This tip is pretty obvious to most people but I’ll say it anyways! Only use licensed and insured contractors. Using a contractor who isn’t insured is like asking for a lawsuit. If that guy gets hurt in your home, you get the bill. No bueno.
5) Last but certainly not least, never use a contractor who can’t show you a rendering. We use a sophisticated program called 20/20 which allows us to show our clients what their completed job will look like before we start. 20/20 provides a 3D perspective drawing of the finished space. This gives our clients an opportunity to make changes. You, the client, should never be expected to imagine what your remodeled space will look like. This leaves too much room for the contractor to do what he wants instead of what you want.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Your project is only as good as your contractor.