The right contractor can make or break your home improvement project

Man and woman looking over blueprints with their contactor

You’re ready to upgrade your kitchen. You have the funds set aside, now it’s time to find the right contractor for your project. But as you begin your search, you realize hiring a contractor is not as easy as you thought it would be.

Here are seven tips to help you find the right fit:

  1. Start with a plan. You’ll get a more accurate project estimate if you are specific with what you want done and the materials you’d like to use. Ask questions of the contractors you interview to get their advice about your ideas. They are experts and should help you make the best decision for your project.
  2. Ask for references. If you know of people in your neighborhood who have done similar projects, ask for references. It’s also wise to talk to friends, family members, and co-workers for trusted contractor referrals.
  3. Get several bids for your project. As a rule of thumb, you should interview at least three contractors for any given project. Ask questions and get a written proposal from each of them. When comparing bids, focus on the type of materials used and the tasks described. Don’t be afraid to negotiate if you feel it’s necessary.
  4. Review the contractor’s credentials and online reviews. Don’t settle for anything less than a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor. Look at the certifications they hold and any online recommendations. Additionally, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints filed against the contractor.
  5. Get the proper permits. Many home renovation projects require permits. Ask potential contractors how they handle getting permits. Some will suggest the job be done without permits to save time and money — don’t use that contractor. You should also avoid any contractor who asks you to get the necessary permits for your project, because that’s his or her job.
  6. Insist on regular communication and project updates. Communication is crucial for any home improvement project. Before you hire a contractor, be sure they are comfortable with providing regular updates to you. The right contractor will be available by email, phone, or text, and will be someone with whom you can discuss all aspects of the project.
  7. Sign a detailed contract. Your contract should include detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, project description, the exact materials to be used (including the model number where available), the names of all parties involved, and how to handle changes or additional costs (if necessary).

By following these seven tips, you’ve improved the odds of finding a contractor who will complete your home improvement project the way you want it done — on time and on budget.