Where to start
Is your roof leaking? Are your windows drafty? Maybe they are or maybe you really aren’t sure. So what’s next? This is where most homeowners get stumped and push things back until they become a real problem. We’re here to give you a step by step guide of how to address an issue correctly, how to find contractors that are reliable and trustworthy, and how to come out happy on the other side.
Where to look
The home improvement industry is one of the most oversaturated industries in the nation. Unfortunately, this is what makes the process so intimidating. There may be a ton of contractors, but finding someone you feel confident in can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Online resources are always a good go to when starting a project, though business’ websites may not always paint the entire picture of a its practices. Keep this is mind in beginning your search. There are certain qualifications you should be looking for in your hiring process, but the first is finding a few good candidates.
Who to trust
Finding a contractor can be a daunting task. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who didn’t receive the type of quality they expected, or worse. The best way to avoid this happening to you, is to make sure you are hiring contractors who are background-checked and fully-insured. This is not always as easy as it may seem. Some contractors may have had businesses in other names, or a history of bankruptcy. They may also have an insurance policy that covers them – not you. At Canvas Your Home, we background check all of our contractors to ensure quality candidates. We also mandate that all contractors have a one million dollar insurance policy to make sure you are best protected.
This is not the only way to obtain contractor information. There are many other sources, one of the best being your neighbors. Not only are your neighbors most likely having similar issues in their homes, but they could be going through a similar hiring process themselves. They can also refer you to contractors in your area that they have been pleased with in the past. The homeowners you speak with should have a similar sense of quality and value as you do. If you’ve done projects that are loosely related to the one you’re currently seeking, you can contact trusted service professionals you’ve worked with in the past and ask for referrals as well.
Getting estimates & questions to ask
Once you have a few good candidates the next step is to actually get the estimates. Price should not be your only factor when considering your estimates. You should understand what the contractors will exactly be doing for you in their bid.. Ask questions!
- What type of materials are going to be used? What kind of quality are these materials? (builder’s grade, median grade, or premium materials?)
- Will my project require a permit and who is responsible for obtaining one? (most reliable contractors will take care of permits for you)
- Who will be doing the work? Do you use subcontractors?
- What will ensure project quality? What kind of warranties are offered and what do they cover? (service warranties commonly only covebor, not materials)
- Is there a deposit required? When will the remaining money be due? (money should be due as tasks are completed)
- How long will this project take to complete?
Depending on the companies you are interviewing, you may be dealing with sales representatives, company owners, or the actual installers themselves. If someone cannot provide a detailed explanation of the entire process, this should be a warning sign that maybe this company will not be reliable in addressing future concerns you may have. The hiring process should also include methods of payment available to you.
How to pay
Most homeowners finance projects that are of a high cost. Some companies may be able to finance you through their own financing departments. However, if a company does not offer financing there are still options for you. Many banks offer personal loans and home improvement loans. Home equity lines of credit are designed specifically to address home improvements. Shopping for financing can be just as important as choosing a contractor.
- Things to avoid when paying:
- Don’t pay with cash, always use a check or credit card.
- Never agree to payments that you cannot afford.
- Do not sign paperwork that you have not read thoroughly or any paperwork that has blank spaces.
- Do not get pressured into signing paperwork you are uncomfortable with.
Once you feel comfortable entrusting your project to a company, the next step is to actually sign the paperwork.
- Make sure you receive a copy of your contract at the time of signing.
- The contract should clearly state:
- Contractor name, address, phone, and license number
- Estimated start and completion date
- Payment schedule with all loan documentation
- Contractor’s obligation to obtain permits
- How to change your order if necessary
- Details of project including material, color, brand (any allowances for items chosen later)
- Warranty information including materials and workmanship covered, including who is honoring them (contractor, distributor, manufacturer)
- What contractor is specifically responsible to do and what they are not (i.e. cleanup and haul away)
- Written statement of your right to cancel contract within three business days (rescission period)
Do not make a final payment to your contractor or sign any completion paperwork until you are satisfied. There should be no increase from the agreed upon estimate amount, unless you have approved the increase. A quick checklist can help you ensure satisfaction at job completion.
- All work that was agreed upon in contract has been done to your satisfaction
- You have access to any warranties provided
- You have proof that all workers and supplies have been paid
- Your home is clear of any debris (materials, tools)