20131125

Hiring a Contractor


So we hired our first contractor to help us create an open floor plan in our kitchen/family room. The work involved knocking down a wall, installing a window, new flooring etc. Didn't seem like much, just not something we were willing to try do ourselves. We started with an estimate in mind.. but having no experience we had no idea what to expect.

I started by picking up the Home Improvement Guide at our grocery store.. picked out a few names of contractors and Googled them. Checked out their website, saw if they had any reviews or complaints and then made phone calls. We had a total of six contractors come out and give us estimates. You don't need to get six estimates.. but I would recommend getting at least three.

We met an interesting mix of people. Of the six two declared our wall, separating the kitchen from the family room load bearing (this makes it a bit more pricey and difficult to knock down, but still doable). And then there were four. Our estimates ranged from the ridiculous $24,000 to $8,000. Now from our reasoning and from what we gathered online, the highest price does not necessarily mean the highest quality nor does the lowest quote mean poor work.

My instincts and gut also played a role in our decisions. The contractors punctuality in both arriving to meet appointments as well as replying back to emails and phone calls. If you are going to be an hour late, pick up the phone and give me a heads up. When we spoke, how many of our ideas seamlessly merged together, how agreeable, knowledgeable and helpful he was were all important factors when choosing who to hire.

When receiving quotes make sure they are not just a number but a detailed written contract of everything that is to be done, it is very easy for things to be overlooked. Make sure everything you discussed and want done is mentioned. Know what is included in the price and what is extra. For example, the cost of window and flooring was extra but the cost of installation was included. Be sure on what materials will be provided by the contractor and what must be provided by you.

Once all the details are decided upon it's time to shop for windows and flooring. Meaning more estimates and mind boggling options.. make sure the contractor knows the measurements and specifications of everything you are going to order so that it meets the requirements, know the delivery times of those materials to create a better timeline.

Lastly, negotiating a price. You don't want to haggle to the point that the relationship between you and your contractor is now uncomfortable, your contractor is your ally. Ask if he can do better? Ask if paying cash would knock make a difference? Ask if there are some jobs you can do to knock off a few bucks? Ask if he has any suggestions to make the project more cost effective? Do not go ahead with anything that makes you uncomfortable.. make sure all your questions are answered before you sign the contract.

Any tips to add? Let me know in the comments.

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38 comments:

  1. I am afraid I m not good at those things. I went through major renovation one year before and almost lost my nerves. But wish u a lot of luck and patience! xx

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    1. oh that does not sound good. We are currently into week two of renovations.. and so far so good.. thank god.

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  2. Wow, great post. Thank you
    Paying up front for everything might not be the best move. If something happens with the contractor, such as not paying vendors or trades, doesn't finish the work and/ or goes out of business, the client might end up paying twice. Check state laws about businesses, and contractors. Have a detail list of payments and work to be done.

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    1. thanks..
      oh yes.. definitely no paying up front. We payed half upfront and half will be paid after the work is done.

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  3. Great tips. My ex-husband and I made the mistake of paying someone up front once. We paid him to cut down and remove a tree from our front yard. The thing is, he was a friend of ours, so we figured that we could trust him. He started the job and left it half cut down for over a month. After many calls on our end, he came to finish the job, but left the cut up tree all over our yard. It was another month before he came to pick up & remove what he cut down. Needless to say, it ruined our friendship and my ex and I learned a valuable lesson about not paying the entire amount up front.

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    1. oh god that sounds like a nightmare.. I guess that should be another tip.. don't hire friends and family unless you are sure you can keep it professional.. signed contracts and all.

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  4. Thankfully, my husband will tackle pretty much home improvement project, but we did have several very large trees that needed to be cut down. I think we had about 10 different people come out for estimates, and thankfully, we found a great deal. We almost took the advice of a neighbor to hire her tree trimmer, but when he was hours late, we squashed that idea!

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    1. Punctuality is very important to me too.. or at least give me a heads up that you are going to be late.
      My husband is willing to do smaller jobs around the house but he works insane hours making it impossible for him to take on larger projects.

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  5. This is a great list. I don't think I have much to add other than to try to get references. I know it doesn't always help, but I've gotten some good feedback that way.

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    1. References are definitely a great idea.. we made a few calls too

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  6. that sounds like a mess to hire someone!! i think we had to do it for a new roof once...and it is nerve wrecking!

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    1. Definitely not a fun process but hopefully the end result will be worth it.

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  7. Good list. It's hard choosing someone and eve harder trusting them especially when there's so much money involved. Amazing the the price discrepancy isn't it.

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    1. We were amazed at just how high high was.. and how low it could go.

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  8. Love that picture! And excited to see what you are doing!

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    1. I can't wait till it's all done..

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  9. ugh.. contractors or having people come fix things- I always ask friends for recommendations because I always find better ppl that way,

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    1. Recommendations make things so much easier.. unfortunately we didn't have anyone we knew who had gotten any work done.

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  10. fabulous tips! can't wait to see what you're doing!

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    1. thanks.. can't wait to finish and share

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  11. Loads of good advice. Good luck with the renos.

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  12. Great tips. I hope the renovation goes smoothly! Can't wait to read more about it!

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

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  13. These are some great tips, girlie!!! :-)

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  14. No tips to add. I learned a bit! Good luck with your renovation. That sounds sublime when it's all done.

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  15. It just so happens that we're in the middle of an addition right now. The contractor is my SO's nephew. We know that he's honest and he's good. We'll find out how close we are within the estimate when all is done. Great tips here though.. and good luck with your renovation.

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    1. thanks.. and good luck on yours

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  16. It can be heaven or a nightmare!!! Good luck ;)

    www.shareasecretmag.com

    xoxo

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  17. hope everything will go well for you! x

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  18. Contractors are so much trouble, work and money!
    How cute is the first picture!
    x
    Stella from a A Shiny Place

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  19. Haha, that photo is funny ;)

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  20. this is great advice. I'm sure we will be using it in the future after we purchase our new home!

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  21. Fisrt off, we love that picture! Secondly, thanks for your advice because finding someone to entrust your dreams with and tot turn your ideas into reality can really be a difficult task!

    www.mkstyleramblings.blogspot.com.au

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