Home improvement projects come with a lot of questions – Will my project be affordable? How much will this project inconvenience my family and for how long? How do I decide which contractor to choose for my project?
There are several questions you can ask potential contractors during the research and estimate phases of your project to get these questions answered and find the contractor that will be the best fit for your project.
First, when researching contractors, it is a great idea to ask family and friends for referrals – especially if they have had the same type of home projects completed. Also, rating sites, such as Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Google Reviews, can be very helpful in narrowing down your options. Virginia, DC, and Maryland all require contractors to be licensed for just about any home improvement project, and Virginia contractors are required to have industry-specific licenses. Licenses can be checked during the research phase by visiting:
Washington DC: http://dcra.dc.gov/service/verify-business-license
Once you have chosen some companies to meet with and receive estimates from, be sure to ask for references. Ideally, a company should be able to provide you with some new references and some old references, so you can speak to previous clients about the process of working with the contractor as well as the quality of work and how it has held up. Always get at least three estimates for your project, but don’t base your decision on price alone. During the estimate phase of the project, be sure to ask your potential contractors the following questions:
- What will your work hours be during my project? It is important for your contractor to be accommodating to your daily schedule during your project. For example, if you have small children, it may be more convenient for your family to start after 9 am to accommodate your family’s morning routine. Conversely, it may be more convenient to start earlier in the morning and end earlier in the day to accommodate your family’s evening routine. Ask during the estimate phase so this is not a surprise when your project starts.
- How will I get updates on my project? Who will I speak to if I have questions? You should have access to a management level employee during your project in case you have questions or need to make change requests. It is also important for you to receive project updates regularly from a project manager or foreman.
- What percentage of jobs are completed on time? Quality over speed is our motto when it comes to project completion, we will take a few extra days to make sure the project is done correctly rather than rush to finish by the completion date. However, with that being said, about 90-95% of our jobs are completed on time. It is important to know if a contractor estimates their job times correctly before you sign a contract. If someone says they can do a job in a certain time frame, however, they only complete 10% of their jobs on time, that is something to keep in mind when considering the impact to your family – and to your project cost.
- Do you mark up materials? Some contractors offer estimates that include materials such as vanities, tiles, flooring, etc., however, be aware that these estimates sometimes include markups on the materials cost. Beautiful Home Services offers Labor & Sundries estimates, which means you are free to choose the materials that you want for your project from any vendor. We do work with a number of vendors that offer our clients contractor discounts, and we do provide assistance with materials selection if needed. This way, you get the look you want at a price that you are comfortable with and we do not have to carry overhead or restrict your choices when it comes to materials. It can also save you money in the end as you are able to get the best prices for your materials without a contractor markup.
Once you have met with at least three contractors and received estimates, it’s time to decide which contractor to hire. Use the information you’ve gathered during the research and estimate phases to narrow down your choices and make a decision. Remember, it’s about more than just cost – make sure to ask questions, read reviews, and speak to references to get a feel for what it will be like to work with each company.
For our answers to the questions above, please check out the video we shot in January at the Capitol Home + Remodeling Show. If you have any other questions or would like to schedule an estimate, please give us a call at 301-816-3255 or visit our website and submit the contact form - www.beautifulhomeservices.com.