A Guide to Finding and Selecting a Qualified Contractor: Home Remodeling Contractors

Picture of a Luxury Home Swimming Pool and Back- yard

The design work has been finished. You already have a building permit and a set of drawings. Finding a skilled contractor is the only thing standing in the way of your eagerly awaited home remodel contractor. When buying your first house, you should find someone you can trust with one of the biggest purchases you will ever make. In this article, I’ll go through what, in my opinion, is the greatest strategy for making sure your remodeling project goes well when you employ a contractor.

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) of the Department of Consumer Affairs is the body responsible for licensing and supervising contractors in California, the state where my renovation business is located. Their website is a great resource for details on best practices and the standing of contractors. On the CSLB website, you can search for contractors by name or license number. It will demonstrate whether they have workers’ compensation for their employees and a bond. They are necessary. There will also be documentation of any disciplinary actions that have been taken. If your project will be carried out somewhere other than California, check with the state government there to discover if a comparable organization is in place. If there are any concerns about the contractor you want to hire, at the very least check with the local Better Business Bureau.

There are several more requirements that are crucial. How long has the company you hired been in operation? How long will they still be in operation? It is in your best interest for your contractor to be financially stable now and for many years to come. Numerous contractors have abandoned their projects in the middle, leaving the owner with a demolished house and the difficult task of finding a replacement. You’ll need the contractor to be accessible in case something goes wrong after the task is finished so they can fix it. Your contractor’s liability insurance may be crucial if there is an accident or breakdown during or after the project. 

Qualified contractors voluntarily carry liability insurance.

I only recommend the old adage “Get at least three bids” when you need a discrete house improvement like a new roof, paint work, or new doors and windows installed. The task scope is obvious in this instance, making it reasonably easy for different specialty contractors to submit comparable bids. It might be in your best advantage to think about an alternative strategy than getting several “free estimates” if your project requires a number of trades and is more complicated. There is no set method for handling this scenario in the residential remodeling market, and the expectations of owners, architects, and contractors differ greatly. Please allow me to describe my strategy.

Consider a scenario involving a competitive bid for public works. It’s an official procedure. Plans and specs have been finalized. The bids must follow a predetermined framework. This makes it possible to compare bids similarly. All eligible buyers have the option to participate in the auction. This ensures both quality for the client and parity for the contractors. The winning bidder must be the lowest bidder in order for the bid to be given in the end. The information must be made public after the winning bid is announced. The domestic remodel market, however, does not have these specifications and often employs less rigorous bidding procedures. This might cause competing contractors to submit bids with a wide range of formats when coupled with the regular issue of inadequate blueprints and specifications. This will make it difficult, if not impossible, to compare their bids accurately.

Obviously, it takes a lot of time and money to create bids. This expense becomes an overhead charge if there is no direct compensation for it. The contractor’s invoices to their clients, which are calculated based on their rates, serve as a means of recovering overhead costs. Their rates rise in direct proportion to their overhead. The more costs businesses incur by providing “free estimates,” the higher their recovery rates must be. The end effect is that all of this bidding, including bidding for the contractor’s prospective clients who never hire them, is subsidized by the contractor’s actual customers. I would rather ask each customer to contribute at least a percentage of the cost of their cost planning as an alternative. This strategy enables my business to maintain a competitive pricing while providing the best possible goods and services. I advise business owners to speak with several contractors, examine their references, and then select the most capable.

It is in your best interest to hire your contractor as soon as feasible. They can provide you and your architect with technical and financial data that will assist you make decisions about style, spending, and schedule. In “The Well Built Home” by Jim Locke and on our blog, “Trade Secrets,” which has a link below, this strategy is extensively discussed. I am aware that this strategy does not have the “benefit” of directly comparing project costs among contractors. Working with someone you’ve vetted, who you trust, who is on your team from beginning to end, and who can provide a special value to the design creation as well as the building process, is, in my opinion, a bigger benefit. Nothing prevents you from pressuring your contractor to offer you the best possible deal, either.

Advice for Contracting a home remodel contractor

Now that spring is here, it’s time to start working on that family-requested home remodel contractor for an improvement project. An architect should be consulted before beginning any major remodeling or structural changes. You might believe that starting out is as simple as speaking with contractors who are listed in the phone book.

To get the names of reliable builders, you must first conduct some research before making that contact. Ask any friends or neighbors who have just finished a remodeling job about their experience. When you have a shortlist of potential candidates, you can get recommendations from the Chamber of Commerce and then get in touch with the Better Business Bureau to check their rating. Referrals can also be obtained through websites on the internet and associations for the building profession.

Finding a trustworthy general contractor can also be done by contacting local tradespeople. There’s a good chance that the general contractors in your area have built contacts with the plumbers, HVAC, and electrical companies. You can get recommendations for candidates from architects, residential designers, and bankers who have worked with builders in your neighborhood.

You should prepare a list of questions to ask during your first conversation once you have a “short list” of three to five possibilities. Their license status (if necessary by your state or municipality), insurance (liability and workers comp), and their capacity to provide references are the three most crucial initial screening factors. Remove any candidates from consideration if they are unable to pass this preliminary exam.

Smaller businesses typically operate from their homes, while larger ones could have their own office and showroom. A contractor’s capacity to manage your project is not indicated by the size or glitz of their showroom. Contractors with showrooms are likely to have more jobs on their plate and might not offer the same level of individualized care as a builder operating out of their house.

A meeting at your house is crucial as you move forward with the screening process so you can assess the situation there and “feel out” the builder to see whether this is the kind of project they are interested in. Also, you will have the chance to evaluate the contractor’s communication skills while they tour your home remodel contractor and hear about your plans.

Be sure to call the references supplied and, if feasible, inspect the finished projects before you commit to anyone. You may gauge how satisfied a homeowner is with the contractor by having a “one-on-one” conversation with them after the project is finished. You might wish to consider a former client’s relatively indifferent demeanor and lack of adulation as a “less than glowing” recommendation. Would you hire them for another project? is a nice query. This conversation will also give you the chance to ask questions regarding the procedure and what to anticipate along the route.

Do not move forward after choosing “Mr. or Ms. Right” unless a contract has been signed. The contract will outline roles and responsibilities as well as the anticipated construction timetable, payment plans, scope of work, and material requirements. The plans and specifications created by the architect or designer, if you are working with them, should be mentioned in the Owner/Builder Contract.

Before & After

Check through each beautiful renovation and draw the inspiration you need for your project