The real estate market constantly evolves and many homeowners feel the need to upgrade their property to keep pace with it. Thus, a home renovation sets the stage for a positive ROI. Maximizing home appreciation via this approach, however, isn’t a walk in the park. It requires careful financial planning, a solid sense of local market dynamics, and detailed execution. What better professional for the job than a credible general contractor?
Not only do local contractors execute remodeling projects efficacy, but they also help their clients make well-informed decisions based on their years of experience. While it sounds pretty straightforward, finding the right fit often proves to be an uphill battle. Not every local contractor fits the profile. Hence, a homeowner would need a bit of research and planning.
Thankfully, this guide does much of the heavy lifting by providing information that will help homeowners find the best local contractors for their next projects.
Set Aside a Concise Plan
While the bulk of a renovation project rest on a contractor’s shoulders, the onus is also on the homeowner to identify project goals and establish a timeframe for completion. A concise plan helps to create accurate cost estimates. Each phase of the project embedded in the plan is realistic, feasible, and measurable. With these parameters, a homeowner knows what to expect from a contractor.
Keep Abreast of Renovation Costs
Two financial considerations in home improvement are the cost of labor and the cost of materials. They are both dynamic and can run the gamut, depending on the property’s size, quality of materials, expertise level, and the availability of resources and manpower. Home remodeling costs at present are anywhere between $15,000 and $200,000 on average.
Those who intend to renovate their homes should stay up to date with such costs and understand how they break down in their contractors’ quotes.
Find References from Reputable Sources
Home remodeling requires highly skilled professionals. It is thus advisable to seek references from known sources. Some of them may be home improvement review forums or sites, such as Angi (formerly Angie’s List), Home Advisor, and Thumbtack. Others can be family and friends who have already hired a contractor for a similar project.
The reviews from these sources point property owners in the direction of general contractors with excellent track records and cost-effective solutions.
Conduct Physical Interviews
Although online ratings and reviews provide valuable insights into a local contractor’s credibility, a personal interview is still a must. A general rule of thumb entails comparing at least three contractors to get the best quotes, skill set, and charisma. Each one will likely have different strategies and cost estimates.
Be open to hearing their ideas and don’t hesitate to ask questions, including those about the type of materials and potential subcontractors to be hired. Request and evaluate estimates from all three contractors. This will narrow the search of finding the best guy for the job.
Run Qualifications and Background Checks
License requirements vary from one state to another. Regardless, a contractor must be in good standing. Homeowners can contact the state’s Department of Labor standards to confirm what’s required and if the said professional has acquired the necessary paperwork. It’s also important to know how long the contractor has been in business.
Long-term contractors are recognized as experts in the sector due to their extensive field experience. They have worked with numerous clients under varying market conditions. This makes new projects an absolute breeze. Although experience is key, don’t rule out contractors who are new to the field.
When it comes to background checks, the Better Business Bureau does a great job of determining whether a contractor has a negative or positive history. Those who have decent reports with the BBB are most likely to perform excellently.
Draft a Contract and Define Ground Rules
A successful project thrives on its underlying terms and conditions. This makes it necessary to draw up a contract before commencing a home renovation. The formal agreement spells out a contractor’s objectives, responsibilities, and terms of payment. A general contract may include:
- Project scope, which details the resources, timeline, and deliverables
- Local contractor’s business information, including license and insurance records
- Permits required for the project
- Payment conditions
- Dispute resolution procedure
- The change management process for initiating, assessing, approving, and resolving project changes
- Termination of agreement clause
These clauses provide transparency, with both parties knowing what to expect at each phase of the project. Keep in mind that contracts are a two-way street. Thus, all hands must be on deck. If there are ambiguities in the contract, both parties must iron them out before work starts.
Understand How Payments Work
Local contractors often request small down payments before they commence work. This is to ensure that they have the necessary resources to get the project off the ground. Home remodeling experts recommend providing at most 10% of the overall project cost at this stage for upgrades that exceed $1,000.
On the other hand, smaller renovations may come with more upfront payment. The homeowner then pays the remaining sum once the project is complete, as outlined in the contract.
Factor in Unforeseen Expenses
Remodeling projects involve unexpected costs along the way. The contractor has to keep the homeowner apprised of such challenges and how they are to be addressed. For example, a plumbing issue may arise during the project, forcing the contractor to re-order pipes. The homeowner has no choice but to cater to the impromptu expense.
When creating a budget, set aside an extra 10% to 20% of the estimated costs in case something goes wrong. This contingency sum will cover the contractor’s unplanned work.
The cornerstone of a successful home improvement project is open and ongoing communication between both parties. The general contractor would have to frequently provide a progress report. That way, it’s easy to track the project and make changes when and where needed.
Although finding the right contractor can be a challenge, the reward for doing so is well worth it. With an experienced professional on board, homeowners can rest assured that their projects will be completed on schedule and under budget. And the best part? Their homes’ value will appreciate exponentially.