Solera Home Improvement provides home remodeling services in and around the city of Palo Alto, CA
Home Remodeling – Palo Alto – Process – Selecting a Contractor
Ideas, plans, designs, specifications, materials, etc are critical parts of your home remodeling project, but someone has to put them together to actually do your remodel.
Remodeling is not a commodity.
Not all remodeling contractors are created equal.
Additionally, in some national survey take a while back, contractors were rated just above used car salesmen for trustworthiness.
You need to choose your contractor carefully as you will be working with them for the duration of your project and you will be living with their results for years to come.
First and Foremost— You want to work with a contractor you can work with.
Although that may seem like a silly statement, the best measure how of people work together is how they work together when something needs agreement or attention.
If you are checking out a contractor and you get a bad vibe, listen to it.
If something is not right before you start, what will happen is something goes wrong?
Here is a checklist of things to consider when selecting your contractor.
How do you know them?
- Ideally, they will have been personally referred to you by someone who directly used them and whose option you trust.
- Next best is a referral from a friend of a friend.
- Next best is you know them by their good reputation.
Check their license
- Ideally there has never been a complaint filed against their license.
- Next best is there have been no complaints within the last three years.
Insurance (ask to see certificates)
- If they can not produce a certificate of General Liability insurance, reject them
- Ask them about Workers Compensation, if they are exempt, the only employees can be owners
Years in business
- It used to be you wanted someone to be in business for five our more years under the same name, but in this recession, many talented trades people have been laid off and started their own contracting business that this is not so straight forward right now.
- What is important is the references are very solid.
Stability and Permanence
- A physical business office was once considered a sign of permanence and stability, but in this recession smaller boutique remodeling firms have given up their offices to reduce their overhead and operate out of their homes now.
- This is not a bad trend as it allows them to charge less, but make sure no matter where their office is, make sure they have an office phone that is not the owners cell phone.
Reference Check (yes, you should check references)
- Not only should you check references (at least three, preferably five) but insist on talking to a prior customer where something went wrong. Have them tell you what went wrong, and check their perception against that of their customer. How contractors deal with problems is perhaps the most important characteristic of a contractor.
- Ideally, your contractor specializes in the work you want.
- Next best is they do the work you want but also does other types of work
Scope and Price
- Everything that has been agreed to verbally is in writing.
- Any and all assumptions are clearly documented
- There is no pressure or discount to “sign up now”
- The work is guaranteed in writing
- Only 10% of the project labor cost is paid up front
- Materials are paid for as materials are delivered
- The schedule of progress payments is clearly defined
- Final payment due after work is completed