Meyer Brothers and Sons is a family owned and locally operated design | build | remodel business in and around Cincinnati, Ohio. Hopefully this blog is both educational & fun, giving you a glimpse into who we are & the work we do.
Monday, May 7, 2012
How to Find a Great Contractor
I came across this article from www.insider.retailmenot.com written by someone out of the industry and thought it was good advice to anyone considering using a contractor, like us! And if you heed her advice, feel free to check us out on Angie's list...don't just take our word for it, listen to our customers.
"Job Well Done
How to work with a contractor, from the initial search to the final payment
by Trae Bodge
So you need some work done on your house. Unless you’re experienced or just downright adventurous enough to do the work yourself, you’ll need a contractor to manage the project for you. If you don’t have a go-to person you already trust, it’s time to get out there and start searching for the right person for the job.
Where to Begin
Do some research on the kind of job you want to have done. Redoing your bathroom? Look at Houzz.com or DesignSponge.com to get design ideas and This Old House or Do It Yourself magazine to get a sense of what’s involved. This way, you can speak intelligently to the contractors you interview and be better prepared to make the big decisions.
Finding the Right Fit
There is obviously the phone book, but otherpeople are the best resources for good, reliable, licensed contractors. If you have a listserve in your community, check it for reviews of local contractors or utilize services like Angie’s List, which offer more than 500 categories of reviews—everything from painting and plumbing to roofing and remodeling. Be sure to ask friends, neighbors and co-workers as well. And don’t forget Yelp!
The Interview: What to Look For
Once you have several names and numbers in hand, reach out and make appointments for home visits.
When you meet, be ready with questions and as much information about your project as possible. Rusty Meador, a contractor in Wilmington, NC, gave me the best advice of all: “Go about hiring a contractor just like you would any other professional. Would you go to a dentist that has a dirty waiting room and tries to sell you a lot of things you don’t need? Then don’t hire a contractor that shows up late for meetings, gives you a poorly thought-out estimate and rarely returns calls.”
The contractor should be willing to provide references (and photos of their work). Check them. Here are some questions you can ask of the person who hired the contractor previously:
• Was the project completed on time and on budget?
• If something unforeseen came up (it usually does), how did the contractor handle it?
• Did they regularly arrive/finish on time?
• Did they clean up after themselves and their crew?
If, at the end of the first meeting, you think you have met a candidate, request an estimate of work. Here are some things to look for:
• A detailed timeline
• A list of any permits that need to be pulled (including the fees and time required for each).
• Does the estimate include materials? The contractor may have his/her own sources lined up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some comparative shopping. If you have a Home Depot or Lowe’s nearby, check the sales pages online, while also inquiring in-store to see if they have a sale coming up that is relevant to your project.
• A list of additional crew or other experts (like architects or inspectors) and make sure their fees are included.
• If the estimates you receive vary widely, ask why. There are legitimate ways to save money and then there is cutting corners.
Once You Have Chosen Your Contractor
Your contractor will draw up a contract, and you should read it very carefully. Here are a few things to look out for:
• Every phase of the job should be clearly mapped out, including when and how materials need to be ordered and when payments are due. You will ideally want to pay in installments and owe at least one-third at the end of the job so your contractor will feel more motivated to stick to the schedule.
• Make sure the contractor’s insurance information is included and that his crew is covered by workman’s compensation (you can call the insurance agency to confirm).
• Will the contractor be managing 100% of the work or will you be chipping in (a good way to save money), by doing demolition, painting, etc.?
Tip: Because it’s common for the work to slow way down near the end, you can also build little bonuses into your contract, to keep the timeline on track. Also, pay by check so you have a record of every payment.
Trae Bodge is a beauty and lifestyle writer based in New York City."