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7 Mistakes That Smart People Make When Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

by *Mike Fournier, owner of:

1)  Poorly Handled Contractor Communication:

Being open with all forms of communication is the key; not only with our family, friends, acquaintances, but also in dealing with remodeling contractors.  This means all forms of social media, plus texts, e-mails, chats, facetime, and even the antiquated (in some minds) phone call.  Finding an honest person means asking direct questions and being able to clearly explain to them what you want and expect with your home remodeling project.Don’t be afraid of simple, yet tough, questions; like: 1) when can you show me your proof of insurance?  2) How many times have you been sued for any reason?3) Why do you want my business?  4) What would your competition say about you if I asked them?  If you do this, it will eliminate the vast majority of potential problems.  Put these questions in writing; and make them answer the questions in writing; which will help to protect you from unreliable contractors.  If they are honest, they will not mind answering.

2)  Deciding NOT To Hire a Certified or Licensed Remodeling Contractor:

Do you hire someone that are not Doctors to prescribe you medicine when you are sick?  Do you use a High School sophomore to complete your complicated IRS tax returns?Do you call an Electrician when your sewer line is clogged?  Probably the answer is no.  Why?Because you are smart to hire people that have received the proper education and training for their respective field of expertise.

So why wouldn’t you make the same choice when hiring a remodeling contractor for your most valuable asset?  There are a substantial number of home remodeling projects that you think “I can handle this one myself”, or “anybody can do this work”, that then morph into money-sucking monsters.  Building a fence, or a deck, or painting the exterior of your home, or attempting drywall repair can ALL fit into the category of “I should have let a professional handle this”.  None of these projects are impossible to do yourself, but the typical homeowner should always lean toward hiring a professional when there is even the slightest doubt.And for complicated projects such as adding on a room, or remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, or converting the attic to a bedroom; would you really consider anyone other than a certified or licensed remodeler?

3)  Waiting Until You Need To Hire a Contractor:

Not addressing problems when they arise leads people into costly replacements instead of a repair.  Spending $750 to repair a heating system that is 30 years old is probably not a good investment; but it can take at least a week to find and install the right heating system if it needs replaced.  As soon as trouble appears, get someone out immediately for a diagnosis.  It is always better to act now instead of later.  If your wrist feels and looks like it is broken, are you going to the Hospital today, or will you wait for a week and hope it will get better?

4)  Hiring a Contractor to Fix a Problem Without a Proper Diagnosis:

Never hire a contractor to solve a problem without having addressed the cause of the problem; otherwise, how do you know the problem won’t return?  Sometimes, the worst thing a person can do is ignore a professional recommendation for repair.  If the contractor properly shows or explains why the damage (or problem) is occurring, then don’t attempt to bypass the problem by not having it fixed.

5)  Hiring a Soliciting Door to Door Contractor:

Avoid door-to-door solicitation.  Don’t even answer the door.  Do you realize how many home invasions, burglaries, murders, and rapes happen every year in broad daylight because people open the door to complete strangers?  We live in a dangerous world; even gated communities are not immune to crime.Unless you know the person, don’t open the door ~ for any reason.  Go with your gut, and respectfully ask them to leave a business card or brochure on the step, and tell them that you will look up the company and call them back if it appears to be someone (or something) that you want to do business with.  If you sense suspicious behavior, immediately call 911, and notify your neighbors.

6)  Being Enticed by the Allure of Low (or High) Quotes:

Be very cautious of quotes that are substantially higher or lower than those of the competition.  High bids are frequently the result of a very busy contractor who only wants to take on more work this month if the higher profit margin makes it well worth their time.  And unusually low quotes are frequently the result of contractors that don’t carry insurance, or pay taxes, or don’t have work comp, or are so new in the industry that they do not know how to properly quote a project.  Skilled labor is never cheap, and cheap labor is never skilled.

7)  Not Looking Far (or Long) Enough For a Contractor:

Successful contractors are busy.  You might have to wait a week or more for the initial visit, and another week or two for your quote.  And if an Architect is required for your remodel, you can easily add up to two months onto your timeline.  If possible, look for contractors within an hour of your immediate area.  More than an hour away is a recipe for excessive travel costs and per diem fees.  Many remodeling contractors serve multiple counties; and will travel up to an hour from their home office for a paid-for quote.  Most remodeling contractors are willing to travel up to 30 miles, and provide free quotes; especially for large six-figure projects.

*Mike Fournier is a local and National award winning contractor.  The NAHB named him Remodeler of the month in May of ’17; and was published in Qualified Remodeler magazine.  Additionally, Mike has won the HBA 2016 Spike Award, and the HBA 2017 Spirit Award, as well as being named Best of Broken Arrow in 2012.  Mike has owned Sonrise since 2000, and has served over 11,000 customers.