Sometimes it just makes more sense to hire a contractor rather than take on that home project yourself. But if you wind up choosing the wrong contractor, you could suffer subpar work, delays and maybe even legal problems. The last thing anybody wants to do is have to call Baron Law Group in Los Angeles and hire a construction lawyer because of a botched kitchen remodel.

Everyone has no doubt heard the expression “You get what you pay for.” This saying is very relevant when planning a remodel or home improvement project that involves hiring a contractor. If you make a decision on a contractor by price alone, you may not like the end results. But with proper planning and a little research, you can increase your chances of finding a contractor who will complete the job to your satisfaction.

Here are a few guidelines and tips that will help you choose the right contractor and better ensure a good overall experience.

Look for Red Flags

There are several red flags you should look for when meeting a contractor for the very first time. Here are a few signs that you need to dump them and move on:

  • If they seem disorganized and unsure about the work involved in a project.
  • If they refuse to provide the proper licenses or references.
  • If they didn’t arrive in time for the meeting.
  • If their quote is way too high or way too low.

Ask the Right Questions

In addition to discussing the project at hand in great detail, you will want to ask the contractor several questions that will help determine if they are right for you.

Ask them how long they have been in business. The longer a contractor has been in business, the better the chances they will do a good job. A contractor who does sketchy work will be exposed in a relatively short amount of time and their business probably won’t last. A contractor who has been in business for 20 years has done so through hard work, great reviews and excellent end results.

Ask the contractor if they have any references from people who have had similar projects completed. It is one thing to get a reference from a guy who gave the contractor rave reviews for a minor fix or project. You might be talking with a contractor who does great work on sidewalk repairs but is lousy at kitchen remodels. You never know, so find a reference from someone who had a similar project completed.

Make sure the contractor you are thinking about hiring is properly licensed, bonded and insured. If there is doubt, politely ask to see the proof. You will certainly want to avoid contractors who are not in good standing.

Ask the contractor when they can start the project and how long the project will take. You will not want to hire a contractor who is well-qualified for the project but is backed up for several weeks if you want or need the project finished right away. That’s just wasting both parties time and energy.

Talk to your contractor about payment methods, when payment is due and how much money they might need up front before starting on the project. Again, if you and the contractor aren’t on the same page here, any further negotiations are just a waste of time.

Ask the contractor if they will be hiring subcontractors, like plumbers or electricians, and whether or not they are certified. In fact, it is best if you get as much information about any subcontractors as you can.

Check with the contractor to see if they will be getting the needed permits to do the work. Many types of projects will require inspections and approvals from the city or homeowner’s association. Make sure you and the contractor are on the same page.

Finally, ask the contractor if there is a provision in the contract that allows you to cancel the agreement if there are certain problems. For example, you might decide to cancel if the contractor doesn’t start the project on time, takes longer than agreed upon to finish or the job is not done up to code.

If you have such a contract with a contractor and need assistance, see what we can do for you.