Fixer upper’s are the new thing, right?! The DIY shows on television are super popular right now,
Remember the office building and country home my husband and I recently purchased and renovated? Between completing many tasks ourselves, hiring out larger jobs, paying novices to assist with easier but labor intensive projects, and talking to friends and relatives who have personal experience with fixer uppers, we learned a lot about common issues and how to overcome them.
12 Things You Must Do When Hiring A Contractor
1) Get bids from multiple people.
If you want some
2) Don’t necessarily go with the lowest bid.
If you receive one bid for $7,000 another for $8,000 and another for $4,500 you shouldn’t always go with the $4,500 bid. Sometimes, you’re being offered a great deal but other times contractors will underbid to win a project or because they didn’t think of all the details. When the latter happens, the client – you! – is responsible for paying on change orders until the price is nearly as high or even higher than the larger bids.
3) Check their references.
As a business owner, I’ve found it’s always good practice to check any potential employee’s references. The same goes for a contractor. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential contractor for 3-5 professional references. If they balk at the idea, you’ll know that’s a red flag.
In fact, in our own business, my husband and I have been asked for references from multiple clients, and we keep different types of reference sheets so we can give the most relevant one at a moment’s notice.
While you’re checking references, you’ll also want to talk to people you know who have recently hired someone for a similar job. Were they satisfied with the work, was the project completed in a timely manner, did they feel communication was good, and did the workers stick with their original bid?
Perhaps the most telling question to ask: “If you have another renovation project, will you want to hire the same crew or will you look elsewhere?” Any hesitation in their answer will tell you everything you need to know.
4) Do not quickly sign everything your contractor gives to you.
Your contract is not a take it or leave it sort of situation. Especially for larger projects, plan to spend approximately a week working with your contractors and an attorney to make sure the wording is just right and fair to both parties.
Having a solid contract in place will not only help you significantly during the renovations, but it will also give you and the contractors an opportunity to make sure everyone is on the same page, which will in turn improve communication and project satisfaction.
5) Have a very specific contract.
If you verbally ask for specific colors, sizes, styles, etc and receive something else, it becomes your responsibility to either accept with the differences or pay for replacements. Specifying particular items on the contract, or having something along the lines of “_______ will choose and approve in writing all materials before they’re installed” will be very helpful.
6) Make sure to get a fixed rate quote.
If you pay for time and materials, the sky is the limit on what your contractor can charge you. Instead, get a fixed rate quote or a “will not exceed” amount and make sure that price is listed in the contract.
7) Have a lawyer look over your contract.
Unless things are outlined in black and white on a signed contract, any verbally spoken promises have absolutely no legal bearing whatsoever. When it comes to hiring an attorney, do your homework and pay a good, knowledgeable lawyer. It will be more than worth every penny.
8 ) Expect to spend more money than you planned.
Even with a fixed rate, all inclusive contract, things like door stops, light bulbs, and a locksmith are not always listed. It’s hard for either party to think of every single item in a large project so set aside some money to cover these additional unexpected expenses.
9) Don’t pay for a job until after the work is complete.
Unfortunately, if you pay your contractors for a job before they complete the work, some will disappear for awhile and you may not be able to get in touch with them.
A few banks make it easy for the client by refusing to disburse funds until a job had been complete, but that’s not always the case for everyone.
10) Have a back-up housing/office plan in case the project takes longer than expected.
Under heavy urging from people who were experienced with renovation projects, we chose to pay extra each month to do a month-to-month contract on our office lease, with no expiration date.
We also had a month-to-month contract in our home, so rent wasn’t an issue there either and when unexpected things occurred, our lease contracts allowed us to stay in our former locations for months longer than planned without being financially penalized.
Whether your plan is a tent in your yard, a couch at your in-laws, or a room in a hotel, make sure you have a backup plan of where to stay in case things take longer than expected.
11) Be gracious.
When you’re doing a renovation project, some things will likely go wrong. People will be tired, stressed, and under tight deadlines. Offer grace to everyone. Don’t act in a way that you’ll regret later.
Remember your hired workers have a lot going on, other projects to handle, and their own businesses to run. Treat them how you want to be treated and keep in mind they’re likely doing the best they can – just like you are.
12) Remember your renovation issues are truly just a first-world problem.
Many people don’t have clean water, sturdy housing, or even enough food to eat. In the scheme of things, having the wrong paint color or a floor board that’s slightly crooked isn’t a huge deal. Frustrating, yes, but still just a first world problem.
At the end of our lives, the color of our counter tops won’t even matter. What will matter is whether or not we’ve lived a life for Jesus and shared about His love with others.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NKJV
I’d love to hear: If you’ve had experience with contractors, what advice would you offer to someone who wants to begin a renovation project?