Choosing and finding a good contractor for a bathroom remodel may be a difficult task for a homeowner new to renovations. Thousands of contractors offer their services in your area, and it can be difficult to know who to trust and who will do a shoddy job. Some especially unscrupulous contractors have been known to travel the country and swindle unsuspecting homeowners of their hard earned money. These contractors will then vanish into the next town and repeat the process. Avoiding those types of contractors is especially important.
In addition to unscrupulous contractors, choosing an incompetent contractor can open you up to liability in the event that someone is injured while working inside your home. Make sure to read the five effective tips for choosing a contractor listed below before your next bathroom remodel. These tips could save you time, money, and lots of headaches.
Getting recommendations for a bathroom remodeling contractor is one of the best ways to choose a contractor. However, not all recommendations are created equal. A recommendation from a family member or close friend that has recently had a bathroom renovation will carry more weight than a recommendation from people that have not had a renovation.
Other people to ask for referrals include the suppliers that the contractors use to purchase building materials. Those businesses will have general knowledge of who is a good contractor that pays bills on time and who has a reputation for bad service and late payment on bills.
The next good source of referrals is going online. Look for contractors that have high reviews on online review sites such as Google Reviews, Yelp, or Angie’s List. These reviews should not serve as the final deciding factor because they can be extremely biased. However, the reviews should always be considered when looking for a good bathroom contractor. A lack of online reviews is also not a good reason to avoid a contractor. Plenty of excellent contractors have zero online reviews but still do a great job.
A recommendation will give insight into the speed of the contractor, the price, and the professionalism. However, a recommendation is not the only method you should rely on before hiring a contractor for your bathroom remodel. Recommendations without further verification could still leave you with a bad contractor and could cost you thousands.
Check for Licensing and Certifications
Checking that the contractor that you hire has the proper contractor licensing for your state, county, and municipality may save you from potential liability. If someone is injured in your house while an unlicensed contractor is working, then you may be liable for the medical bill associated with those injuries. For that reason any business that is not a licensed contractor, when required to be a licensed contractor, should not perform work on your home to prevent this tremendous liability.
Licensed contractors should also be bonded and insured. This becomes convenient if anything negative does happen during your bathroom remodel. You simply file a claim with their insurance or bonding company. This gives you some financial security and recourse in the event that anything bad does occur.
Other than licensing, there are a few optional certifications that are specific to bathroom renovating that may indicate a quality contractor. Look for certificates from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, (NKBA), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). These certificates require the contractor to keep up to date with the current trends in bathroom remodeling and indicate a high level of competence in their respective field. Keep in mind that not having a certification does not necessarily indicate a low-quality contractor, but a certificate certainly looks good while choosing a contractor.
Overall, an ideal contractor will have all necessary licenses and should have certificates from their respective association. The contractor should provide a copy of their license and certificate upon your request. The licensing information should also be verified through an online search with your state as contractors have been known to show expired licenses.
Conduct a Phone Interview
A phone interview with a potential bathroom contractor is one of the most important steps while choosing a contractor. However, knowing the right questions to ask will make this phone interview much easier and will uncover any potential problems with the contractor.
Some questions to ask your contractor before remodeling your bathroom include:
– How long have you been in business?
While new companies may be great companies, it is best to choose contractors that have been in business for many years. It is always reassuring when a business has kept its doors open for over ten years, especially in an industry as competitive as bathroom remodeling.
– Do you also offer design services?
Some contractors only focus on construction, and others offer full end-to-end services for their projects. Both companies are fine, but make sure you know what you know what the company offers before moving forward.
– Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
You can check licensing yourself, but it is still always good to ask. Ask to see copies of their insurance policy to guarantee that they have the proper insurance for the project.
– Do you have references I can contact?
Ask for references from previous contracts. Call these references and ask how their experience with the contractor went and if they would recommend working with them. Many people do not bother calling references, and scrupulous contractors know this. Don’t be shy, make sure to call the references that they provide and ask about the job.
– Will we need to acquire a permit for this project?
Most cities and counties will require a permit for any changes to the design or structure of the house. Your contractor should know the permitting requirements of your location and guide you through this process. If a contractor seems unsure about the permitting requirements, then you might want to find a different contractor. Not acquiring a permit can result in fines and penalties if discovered by inspectors.
– How does payment work?
Every contractor will have different guidelines on how they want to be paid. Some will have financing and others will require 50% to be paid up front. Ask the contractor to see what payment plans they offer and if it is what you want. Contractors can usually work out a special plan for you to pay for your bathroom remodel.
– Do you use subcontractors or do you have employees?
Using subcontractors is not necessarily bad, but you want to make sure that the company only hires the best subcontractors. You can do this by asking further questions about how they hire subcontractors for projects and if the subcontractors are fully qualified to do a bathroom renovation.
The questions provided on this list are just a start for the many questions you should ask. Other good questions include asking anything specific to your needs for the renovation. Some of those could include asking about certain building materials and the workday for the project. Some contractors start and finish earlier than other contractors, and this is good to know if your particular situation calls for unusual hours.
Set Tight Deadlines
No one wants contractors wandering through their house for six months. A bathroom remodel is even more important because it means you cannot use that bathroom for most of the renovation. Make sure you set tight deadlines with the contractor, and they can guarantee that they meet the deadlines.
Tight deadlines do not mean setting unreasonable deadlines. Asking a contractor to fully renovate a bathroom in under a week simply won’t happen, but if a contractor says a bathroom renovation will take six months with no explanation, then press for a reason. If no legitimate reason exists, then you should move onto finding another contractor.
Bathroom renovations usually take longer than expected for a variety of reasons that are often out of control of the contractor such as a delay in supplies or permits from the city or county. However, you want to make sure that your contractor has a tight deadline from the beginning of the project because the project will often take longer than expected. This tight deadline adds a little extra padding for delays.
The bid process for choosing a contractor is one of the most important steps. The general rule of thumb is not to choose too many contractors that it gets overwhelming, but choosing enough that you still have a good selection of contractors.
Three to five contractors submitting bids after going through an interview should be a good amount to start. Over five contractors bidding on a project can get very confusing for you. It is also a very time intensive process to interview contractors, and over five is just not really necessary.
Next, make sure you understand exactly what the bid offered by the contractor includes and does not include. Some bids will include design, and some will not include design. The good bids will have line items with each part of the contract laid out to One good rule of thumb is to avoid the contractor that offers a bid significantly lower than the other bids. This could indicate low quality work or a contractor desperate for work. Both of those situations where you would want to avoid choosing that contractor to remodel your bathroom.
Choosing a good bathroom contractor for a bathroom remodel is a difficult task, but these five tips should help you make the best decision possible. The most important factor is to find a contractor that actually listens to your needs and wants. Not a contractor that just throws back the same generic bid to every potential. These contractors that actually listen can easily be determined during the interview process and their subsequent bid.
Overall, finding a contractor that listens is the main point that all the tips provided are trying to show you. Find a bathroom contractor that listens to your problems, and you will have a great experience renovating your bathroom.