748869_95153572Choosing a contractor for a remodel or addition can be stressful. We’ve all heard horror stories about contractors that do shoddy work, overcharge and abandon projects before completed.

How can you avoid such fate? Short answer is do your homework.

  • Have a clear idea of what you want and do enough research to know how to get there. When you can clearly articulate what you want the outcome to be, you will reduce the chance of misunderstanding or confusion about the expected results.If you have specific materials or products that you want the contractor to use – say for example, green building materials – make those clear as early in the process as possible. You can also look for contractors with particular areas of expertise.
  • Get three bids. Three bids will give you a sense of what this kind of work is going for in your market. But don’t jump right to the lowest bid. Consumer Reports surveys show that people who hired the lowest bidder generally got poorer work.
  • If you’ve worked with a contractor before, surveys show that if you do again you’ll be happier and have fewer cost and time overruns than those who hired someone new. If you haven’t worked with a contractor before, ask friends for names of people who have done work for them.
  • Always get references. Reputable contractors will be happy to provide names and contact info. Many sources suggest calling older references as well as recent projects and going to see the work in person.
  • Make sure your contractor is legit. Check for proper licensing and insurance. The contractor should be licensed to do work in your state and carry liability and worker’s comp insurance.

You can get customer reviews on Angie’s List. Worth checking to see what kind of grade your contractor gets from previous customers who might not show up on the reference list.