Here are some tips to find a trustworthy contractor… For a kitchen or bathroom remodel you should use a general contractor or design build firm. This is a project that is beyond what a typical handyman can handle. There are tons of materials and factors that go into these larger projects, a handyman is not going to be able to help with that. Do you want to invest in the most expensive areas of your home without the help of a designer?
- Check that the contractor has insurance. Ask for a copy of their insurance certificate and call the provider to ensure it’s still active. This protects you and your home!
- In Maryland, ask for a copy of their MHIC license and check the MHIC website to ensure they’re in good standing.
- Know what you want before getting an estimate. Contractors may be frustrated with requoting for repeated changes and redesigns. Narrow down your layout to 1-3 options and figure out the top priorities for each person involved in the remodel. One revision to an initial estimate should be able to cover all changes. Remember a contractor is also deciding if they are a good fit to work with you on your project.
- Ask friends, neighbors, and relatives for suggestions on contractors but let the experts give you advice on layouts and finishes. This is their job and they’ve done thousands of remodels, don’t rely on the experience of a friends who has done one remodel.
- Ask if they use subcontractors for any trades or provide everything in house. If they use subcontractors make sure it’s the same people consistently over years.
- Read online reviews or ask for references.
- Make sure they are legitimate and have a website.
- Be realistic about availability, most cabinetry has a 4-6 week lead time. If you’re hoping to finish before a certain holiday, start the contractor interview process 4-6 months before you’re hoping to have the project done. This gives time to meet contractors, finalize design and scope, order materials and most importantly wait for the right contractor to have availability. The best contractors may not be available right away because they’re popular! Do you want to go with who’s available or who’s right for the job?
- Make sure you sign a very detailed proposal, and verify the scope of work is correct.
- Ask about what to expect on site and timeline. Ask how they’ll protect the rest of your home and your pets during the process.
- Find out who the main contact is throughout the process and the best form of communiction- text, email, call, etc.
- Make sure the contractor answers your questions quickly, this same communication style will carry though installation.
- Most importantly, choose someone you feel comfortable with, someone that listens to your needs/wants. Someone that understands your style and priorities. And someone with a communication style that works well with yours.
- And finally, check the payment terms. Legally no contractor in Maryland can take more than a 30% deposit. You also want to be sure you get to withhold some money until the end of the project.