What you should look for in a contractor
So, you’re thinking about remodeling your bathroom?
Congratulations! When done properly, a remodeling project can make your home more enjoyable and prove to be a valuable investment. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard horror stories about home remodeling projects gone wrong. Problems with longer-than-expected installations, final bills that come in higher than the original quote, and poorly done, sadly, are commonplace.
This comprehensive contractor selection guide will walk you through everything you need to know about finding the right contractor for your home improvement project.
It’s important to make sure that any contractor you hire has proven themselves in the past and will be there if you need them in the future. Don’t just ASK the contractor if they are stable; look for tangible proof of longevity and financial stability by asking for the items listed below.
What to Look For: Proof of Establishment
Why it’s important: Believe it or not, many contractors use a pickup truck for an office and showroom. Make sure that you look for an established contractor with a real office and all the normal business operations like accounting, production, sales, etc. If a contractor does not have an office address, that should tell you something. Don’t fall for the “We just use our trucks as offices!” line.
What to Look For: Supplier Letter
Why it’s important: This is written confirmation of the company’s dealings with a supplier of the product that they install stating that they are in good standing as a vendor and pay their bills promptly. These letters are easy for your contractor to obtain from suppliers. If a contractor says they are difficult to obtain, then there might be something that they’re trying to hide.
What to Look For: Business History and License
Why it’s important: Make sure they have been operating under the same name for a minimum of 5 years. Many contractors open and close their doors multiple times to avoid past customer complaints. Naturally, some businesses will be legitimately new. If that’s the case, get a 10-year work history of the owner and ask questions. Also, ask to see the company’s business license to make sure they are a legitimate local business.
What to Look For: Insurance
Why it’s important: You need to know if your contractor carries general liability insurance for both commercial and residential projects. A sizable contractor will carry no less than $500,000 and usually around $1,000,000 of coverage. If your contractor’s insurance policy can’t cover potential damages, then the contractor would be personally liable. If he cannot cover the damages himself, you will have no legal recourse and will end up paying for any possible damages or injuries yourself. Many contractors are not financially stable and don’t carry proper insurance coverage to protect you against losses. Additionally, contractors who fail to provide workers’ compensation benefits risk severe government penalties and potentially company-ending lawsuits should an employee become injured.
Quality Advantage Home Products can provide up-to-date insurance information to prove that we are fully backed by liability coverage. Just ask to see our certificate of insurance! Do not deal with a contractor without seeing proof of their coverage or you will foot the bill for their mistakes.
You can tell a great deal about a contractor based on what others are saying about them, particularly their past customers. The old advice of “ask for 3 references” is just too easy to fake. You’ll need to get a little tougher with your contractor to protect yourself. Insist that any contractor you’re considering can produce the things listed below to prove that their reputation is rock solid.
What to Look For: BBB Accreditation
Why it’s important: You need to go further than just checking a contractor’s standing with the BBB. Remember, many contractors shut down and open under new names year after year. So check to see how long they’ve been a member and check to see they’re accredited by the BBB. This means that if complaints arise, the contractor agrees that the BBB’s judgment is binding and must perform accordingly. Without this agreement, you may have no recourse. Quality Advantage is a BBB Accredited Business with an A+ rating.
What to Look For: Customer References
Why it’s important: All reputable contractors carry pre-printed lists of references that include customers from 1 to 5 years ago as well as customers from the previous 6 months. This list should contain at least 100 references.
What to Look For: Accolades and Awards
Why it’s important: If a contractor has been in business for any length of time, and doing a good job, they will most likely have been written about in an article, received an award of some kind, or received special recognition from an association or trade organization. Any company that can’t produce at least SOME of these accolades might not be worthy of them.
A good contractor doesn’t just do good work. They also understand that when dealing with customers, it’s oftentimes the little things that make a big difference. You should find a contractor that shows you respect by the way they treat you, the way they treat your property, and how they pay attention to details. Check any contractor you’re considering against the standards of professionalism found below.
What to Look For: Remodel Agreement
Why it’s important: Most contractors will not even provide you with a basic receipt or invoice upon completion of a project. You should always make sure to get an agreement that details measurements, time to be spent on the project, and the type and amount of materials being used.
What to Look For: No Tricks, No Pressure Sales Agreement
Why it’s important: Many unethical contractors will resort to high-pressure sales tactics to get you to buy before you’ve had an opportunity to do proper due diligence on them. Any time you feel uncomfortable or unduly pressured in a sales environment, you should ask the contractor to “back off.” Reputable companies will have a no-tricks, no-pressure sales pledge signed by the owner, sales manager, and each sales associate.
What to Look For: Employee Code of Ethics and Conduct
Why it’s important: This compliance agreement, signed by the workers, is a contract prohibiting the use of alcohol, drugs, foul language, misconduct, or other bad behavior on a job site. It also covers standards for a clean appearance. Keep in mind that not everything is perfect, but this agreement will greatly reduce the likelihood of problems.
What to Look For: Itinerary for Appointment
Why it’s important: Unethical contractors will often play their sales pitches by ear, using tactics that they have used to sway different types of customers. Ask them to give you a written appointment agenda. If they are unwilling to discuss it, you can bet they will try to use shady misdirection tactics or they are simply unprepared. Either way, would that be the kind of company you want to work with?
Ultimately, any contractor has to be competent to do the job right the first time. Competence comes as a result of training, experience, and good old-fashioned hard work. As you evaluate a contractor, look for signs that they can do the job right the first time.
What to Look For: Project Photos for Ideas & Inspiration
Why it’s important: A contractor who serves his customers well should be proud to present pictures of the work they’ve done. Ask to see samples of jobs they’ve done, as inspiration for your own project and to gauge the quality of the work they’ve done in the past. If no photos can be produced, that should be a major warning sign.
What to Look For: Years of Experience
Why it’s important: At Quality Advantage Home Products, we have over 100 years of combined experience. While other bathroom remodeling contractors in Hampton Roads hire unskilled and untrained labor, we don’t. We whole-heartedly believe that experience saves YOU time, hassle, and most importantly, money. If it’s not done right, it’s not done.