Whether you need a new water heater or bathroom sink and toilet, it is important to hire the right plumbing contractor for your project. Searching for a local plumber on Google can be overwhelming and time-consuming. So, we have outlined some tips for hiring the right plumbing contractor for your home renovation project.
Do your research on trusted websites such as the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List that specialize in rating customer satisfaction. Once you have a list of 3-5 possible plumbers to review check out their websites. A great company website will provide information about the company including services and rates offered. Questions that are not answered on the website can be answered through a phone call with a company representative.
Ask relatives and friends you trust for recommendations. They can often tell you which plumbers they’ve used and what they thought of them. They may be able to alert you of any plumbers who provide satisfactory service. You can also search online and look for the company’s customer reviews.
If you decide to call the company, either for information or to schedule an appointment, take note of how you are treated. You want to work with a plumbing company that keeps customer service at a high standard. Treating you with respect and effectively answering all y our questions is a good sign of great customer service.
Make sure the plumber is certified, licensed, and insured for their protection and yours. Ask for personal references and check them out to make sure these are genuine.
Research the address of the plumbing business to make sure it really exists. You want to work with a local company that has a vested interest in the community and in keeping customers satisfied and coming back.
Guarantees are important. Make sure the job isn’t subcontracted to different plumbers that may not offer the same guarantees. You want the job done on time, and, if there are any problems, you want the plumber to repair, replace or do whatever is necessary to provide a satisfactory result.
Want to learn more about finding the right plumbing contractor for your home renovation project? Call us today!
Before you hire a home improvement contractor, consider how to make the experience as seamless as possible for everyone involved
After months of planning, dreaming, saving, and picking out samples, it’s finally time to take action on your big project. Whether it’s a bathroom remodel or a new addition off your main level, a home improvement contractor can lend their specialized experience, skills, and knowledge to your project. Here are six essential tips to keep in mind when hiring a local contractor near you.
1. Communicate Your Goals
During your first conversation with a prospective contractor, discuss your goals for the project, from the final result to the small details. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor questions and discuss how you can keep in touch regularly throughout the project. Hiring for home improvement requires trust, so make sure you see eye-to-eye and choose a contractor that understands your vision and has the experience the job requires.
2. Be Clear About Your Budget
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Communicate exactly what you want done and how much you’re willing and able to pay for the job. This way, the home improvement contractor you hire can give you a quote that sets expectations for both parties, and you won’t end up with any surprises at the end of your project.
If necessary, break the project down into multiple phases. Although spreading out project milestones may push out the project’s completion date, it may be a better option for your budget to minimize the upfront cost. Homeowners can also often save money on a home improvement project by doing small tasks on their own, such as cleaning and painting.
3. Understand That Price Often Reflects Quality
Ask your contractor for their recommendations on all project deliverables and timelines and request a written description of the materials necessary for the job. While the lowest bid might sound the easiest for your budget, it’s not always the best option in the long run. An unusually low bid may indicate that a contractor uses sub-par materials, cuts corners, or is unlicensed or uninsured.
You can avoid home improvement fraud and get the quality you’re looking for by going with a more accurate project bid somewhere in the middle and requesting past-client references to follow up with.
4. Know a Contractor’s Credentials
Before hiring a contractor, brush up on common industry standards and qualifications, including any certifications they have from a national trade organization. Abbreviations behind your contractor’s name indicate that the company belongs to certain organizations that bind them to a strict code of ethics. Memberships, titles, and abbreviations may include:
Your contractor should give you a timeline for the job to be completed. If they don’t, ask for one! This will give you peace of mind throughout the process and ensure everyone is on the same page with their expectations. Plus going without a timeline can really slow down your home renovation.
Do your best to stay organized by keeping job-related documents, such as contracts, payments, receipts, and contact information all in one place in case you need them for reference.
6. Educate Yourself About the Home Improvement Requirements
Doing some high-level research before the hiring process will help you understand what requirements and regulations need to be followed for your remodeling project. While your contractor will likely apply for and acquire all necessary permits, it doesn’t hurt to ask for process details and updates.
The cost of the job will likely increase if the contractor is surprised by outdated wiring or other concealed budget busters, so it’s important to know what’s going on behind the scenes in your home as well.
Taking on a home renovation project or a brand new construction project can be intimidating. While you may have a clear idea of what you want your home to look like, you may not know much about the details—from drafting plans to pulling building permits to sourcing labor and materials. That’s where a general contractor can be incredibly useful.
What Is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is a professional in the construction industry who oversees a construction project. A good general contractor is the point person who communicates with the architect and structural engineer, the workers on the job site, and the government entity that issues the necessary permits and inspects for code violations. Some general contractors work for large construction companies; others work independently and hire subcontractors to handle tasks like carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, roofing, and on-site project management.
What Does a General Contractor Do?
The best general contractors oversee every part of a construction project. Among other things, a general contractor does the following:
Drafts a budget and schedule: The general contractor consults with the homeowners about setting a realistic budget and time frame.
Works closely with the architect: A good general contractor regularly checks in with the building architect, who may even be provided by the contractor’s firm.
Works closely with the interior designer: If applicable, the general contractor will keep tabs on the interior designer, who may even work for the contractor’s firm.
Ensures that the building complies with standards: The general contractor applies for building permits and is onsite during inspections from the city, county, or other supervising entity.
Hires subcontractors for construction: Subcontractors hired by the general contractor may include carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, painters, tile and floor specialists, ironworkers, and HVAC specialists.
Potentially hires an onsite project manager: The project manager supervises the actual construction work and ensures building codes are always met.
Keeps the project on time and on budget: The general contractor won’t move on to the next job until yours is completed.
Before breaking ground on any major projects, make sure you’ve found the best contractor to oversee the process.
Use referrals. Don’t select a contractor based on advertising alone. Ask for referrals and look for honest opinions about a local contractor’s work. If you know people in the real estate or construction industry, solicit their thoughts as well.
Seek licensed contractors. Most municipalities do not require you to use a licensed contractor—your average everyday handyman may not have a contractor’s license—but larger projects almost always need the expertise of a licensed professional with years of experience. Licensed contractors carry liability insurance and worker’s compensation for their crews, which can protect you if an injury occurs on the job site.
Ask to see pictures of similar projects. If you’re hiring a contractor for a big kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel, it’s important to confirm that you’ll be happy with the end result. When reviewing photos of past work, check the seams of surfaces—places where walls come together or where the wall meets the ceiling. If you see evidence of shoddy work, look for a different contractor; you want someone who pays attention to detail.
Get multiple quotes. For first-time homeowners, it may be hard to know how much to pay for a construction project or home remodeling project. If you get at least three quotes from different contractors, you should have a good idea of the going rate.
Settle on a price and a time frame, and get it in writing. Work should not begin until you have a written agreement with your contractor or home builder, stating the total cost of the project, the start date, and the completion date. Be aware that if you change order—such as moving a wall or redesigning shelving after the project has begun—your contractor will likely bump up the price to cover the additional work.
Select finishes with the contractor. Finishes include faucets, sinks, countertops, lighting fixtures, doors, doorknobs—the kinds of aesthetic touches you’ll likely want to decide on yourself. You do not have to get into the weeds about foundational materials like concrete, steel bars, and structural wood; a good contractor knows what to use, and a building inspector will ensure they are building to code.
Expect to make a down payment. Most contractors require an upfront payment before they do any work. This down payment confirms you are serious, and it gives the contractor funds to purchase initial building materials. Plan to pay at least 10 percent and up to 25 percent of the total cost upfront. Any pre-payment above 25 percent is a red flag.
Set up a payment schedule. Beyond the down payment, you’ll need to make additional payments throughout the construction process. Never make the final payment until the entire project is completed and approved by local inspectors.
Treat as a partner on the project. The best general contractors work as partners with their clients. They do not try to bully their clients into materials or services they do not need, and they always respect the schedule and the budget. In return, treat your general contractor like the master tradesperson they are, and always be polite to workers at the job site. Providing access to an indoor bathroom and plenty of water and snacks can make for a respectful relationship.
Set boundaries. Don’t let your contractor dive into their next job if your building project isn’t close to completion. If there are cost overruns, ask to see receipts and thorough accounting. If you’re always polite but firm, you’ll set yourself up for a respectful, satisfying experience from start to finish.
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares what you should know before you hire a contractor.
Tom Silva, This Old House general contractor, shares how homeowners should evaluate a potential contractor before hiring him or her to work on a house. Here are his top 8 pro tips to help you find a contractor from start to finish.
1. Get Recommendations
Start with your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building inspector, who’ll know which home renovation contractors routinely meet code requirements, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, or pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.
2. Do Phone Interviews
Once you’ve assembled a list, Tom recommends that you make a quick call to each of your prospects and go through these questions to ask a contractor:
Do they take on projects of your size?
Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
Can they give you a list of previous clients?
How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.
3. Meet Face to Face
Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says that it’s crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau before you hire a contractor to make sure they don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.
4. Investigate the Facts
Now that you’ve narrowed your list, put your research to use. Call up former clients to find how their project went and ask to see the finished product. But Tom says you shouldn’t rely on results alone. Even more important, visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works. Is the job site neat and safe? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner’s property?
5. Make Plans, Get Bids
You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it’s time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A conscientious contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent.
6. Set a Payment Schedule
Another important tip for hiring a contractor is to workout a payment schedule ahead of time. Payment schedules can speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic. If they want half the bid up front, they may have financial problems or be worried that you won’t pay the rest after you’ve seen the work. For large projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.
7. Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide
“Throw out the lowball bid,” says Tom. “This contractor is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work”—hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he communicate. All things being equal, it’s better to spend more and get someone you’re comfortable with when hiring a contractor.
8. Put it in Writing
Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. Insisting on a clear contract isn’t about mistrust, Tom assures us. It’s about insuring a successful renovation.
Finally, remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer. The four most expensive words in the English language? “While you’re at it….”