20 Dec Hiring a Contractor: How to Conduct Your Due Diligence
The time has arrived to give your home the makeover you’ve always fantasized about. As anyone will tell you, getting from point A to point Z requires time, patience, and of course money. Choosing a general contractor is the most important decision because you are trusting them to get the job done correctly, on time, and within your budget.
Fortunately, you have access to lots of information and resources to help guide you, and in this post, we provide tips on how to conduct your due diligence.
Research Their Reputation
Reputation is everything for a business, and there’s never been an easier time to look up reviews on platforms like Google, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Guild Quality, Houzz, the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and the GC’s Facebook page, among others.
If the majority are 5 star reviews, that’s a great sign, but also pay attention to negative feedback to see how the contractor responded and what action they took to rectify the situation. This will give you a good sense of their integrity and should be enough to influence which company you will contact.
Get a Referral From Someone you Know
To piggyback off the last tip, seeking a referral from a friend or family member is very convenient. You may know someone who recently had work done who you could reach out to.
Another avenue is to post on Facebook for recommendations; you’ll likely receive more feedback than you anticipated.
Have a Budget
Having a ballpark budget range is important. Depending on available materials and other factors like size and complexity, the average cost of a full-home renovation in the Chicagoland area typically starts at $100 per square foot.
Knowing what you plan to spend will help guide the GC and may influence their estimate.
Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed
Never make an assumption that a contractor has all the professional credentials required for them to be in business. Illinois doesn’t require a general contractor license at the state level, but licenses are regulated at the city or county level, and the requirements vary. However, the state mandates licensing for roofers and plumbers.
Also verify that your contractor is insured and bonded and that all documents are up-to-date.
Schedule an Initial Consultation
Contact a GC candidate to see if they provide a free consultation and whether you’ll be getting a written estimate. Along with knowing your budget, also be specific about what you want done. For a new kitchen, how do you envision the layout? If it’s a basement, how many rooms, how do you prefer the lighting, and what kind of flooring do you want?
Whatever the case may be for your renovation, convey this information so that the GC can make informed recommendations and give you a timeline and an estimate.
What is Their Process?
Renovations can be big jobs, so it’s critical that you understand the scope of the project and how it will impact your living situation. Key considerations include:
- Understanding all stages of the project, including start and end dates
- When the crew and materials will arrive
- Do you need to be home, or will the work require that you temporarily move out?
- Does furniture need to be moved?
- How change orders are handled
- What the aftermath looks like: will you receive product warranties, and when will leftover materials be removed along with the dumpster?
It’s normal to experience a spectrum of emotions during a renovation, including excitement, stress, anxiety, and hopefully pride when the project is complete. By conducting your due diligence, you increase the chances of the experience being a successful one.