Home improvement done right takes time. You have to research to find good contractors; make sure they have the proper licenses, insurance and bonding for the job; and set up appointments to interview prospective contractors. Once you get bids, you need to read and evaluate them; perhaps negotiate different aspects of the job; and sign a contract. And that’s before the first nail gets hammered.
Now, where should you be as the work gets under way? It’s a question I get a lot, along with, “Can I trust my contractor and his or her crew alone in my house?” Most homeowners face this issue when they take on major home improvement projects because most of us don’t have the time to watch over every move.
I’m reluctant to tell anyone what to do in this scenario because you have to go with your gut. You’re not just hiring a professional — you’re inviting a person into your home to do the job. You have to feel comfortable with the person or crew. Do you trust them?
It’s always important to meet the owner and even the crew face-to-face before the work starts. A contractor will come to your house for an estimate or a contract signing anyway, so don’t be afraid to ask questions when they get there. Trust isn’t built on blind faith.
Make sure to ask for references of other homeowners they’ve worked with. If your contractor plans to hire subcontractors, ask them about the extra help. Make sure you know who is stepping through your door. Will the foreman or owner of the company be on-site at all times? And does the provider do background checks on employees?
Also find out what resources a contractor may decide to use in the home. Do they plan to use your bathroom? How about your kitchen? Do they need power sources, water and entry into any parts of the home like the attic or basement? You want all bases covered and expectations set.
Certainly, if you do decide to allow a contractor to work at your house while you’re not there, you don’t want these questions arising in your absence. Always make sure you have multiple ways to stay in contact with your contractor if necessary. Don’t get caught missing a detail if you can’t be on-site to ensure the work will get done.
Regardless of whether a contractor is left home alone, feeling good about your hiring decision is an essential part of the home improvement process. We hope Angie’s List consistently helps you find the right hires.
Even if the reports on the List give glowing reviews of the contractor you’re thinking about hiring, trust your own instincts. If you’re not comfortable with someone, don’t hire him or her. There’s a lot riding on any home improvement, including time and money. Always treat hiring like building a relationship rather than just carrying out a transaction. It’ll put you more at ease with any decision you make regarding your home.