Whether it’s due to unexpected flooding, a tornado or another natural accident, sudden damage can leave your home in need of serious repair. Minor issues you may be able to resolve on your own, but more complex problems are best solved through the expert knowledge and skills of a professional restoration contractor.
Just selecting any contractor won’t ensure a quick resolution, or that you’re happy with the result. Choosing the right restoration contractor should be a process rather than a snap decision based on convenience. The following steps will help you proceed strategically in choosing the perfect contractor for your restoration needs.
1. Start your search locally.
Especially in the wake of a natural disaster, out-of-town contractors may go door-to-door to help fill the need for restoration services. Some of these may be reliable, qualified professionals, but there is a definite risk in hiring a contractor who moves from one area to another, following disasters. By contrast, a truly local contractor will have established connections and a reputation in your area — and will also have valuable knowledge specific to your city and county that will result in better work.
2. Get recommendations.
Your neighbors, as well as local family and friends, are the perfect source to begin your search for a restoration contractor. They may have used a contractor before or know someone who recently has, which provides you with first-hand information on your restoration options — the kind of feedback that you can trust. Along with good advice on quality contractors, your local connections can also warn you away from a less-than-ideal contracting experience.
3. Run phone interviews.
Just as if you were hiring a new employee for your company, interviews are an important step in hiring a contractor. From your list of recommendations, you should use a brief call to each as an initial interview. This conversation should cover the basics, such as their availability, schedule and experience with projects like yours. In addition, you should ask if they are willing to provide a list of references or previous clients.
4. Do your background research.
Armed with a little more information on your potential contractors, the next step is to do more in-depth research into each option. This is where you will call former clients to get their feedback and even ask to see the completed work. You can also look up contractors on credible sites such as the Better Business Bureau for more background information. Finally, visiting a current work site, when possible, will give you clear insights into how the contractor works.
5. Meet with potential contractors in person.
Based on the phone interviews and your research, you will likely be able to narrow down the contractors on your list. The next move is to choose 3-4 contractors to meet with in person. This meeting should take place at the project site so that the contractors can provide an estimate and answer any specific questions you may have about the project. The in-person consultations can also reveal how well you and each candidate will be able to communicate.
6. Request and compare bids.
After the in-person meetings, you contractor candidates will draft bids for the project. This will allow you to compare not only the cost but also what each contractor includes in their fees. These bids should break down the expense by individual materials, labor costs and other expenses so you have clarity on the investment.
7. Set up a payment schedule.
Most restoration projects involve a payment schedule of some kind. While this can vary by the contractor, project and region, a 10 percent deposit is standard. Larger deposits required up front, such as half the bid or more, should be a warning sign, as they may indicate an issue with the contractor’s work standards or finances.
8. Review your options and select a contractor.
While the bids are important — and in most cases, it makes sense to disregard the lowest bid — cost shouldn’t be the only factor in choosing your restoration contractor. The contractor’s quality of work, experience and communication skills are also important criteria. Your level of comfort with the contractor as well is essential to the project’s success and should be a key consideration.
9. Draw up the contract.
Once you’ve decided on the contractor you want to hire, it’s time for signing the contract. You don’t want to take too much time to correct the damage to your home, but at the same time, you shouldn’t feel rushed by a contractor — that’s another major warning signal. Before signing any agreement, take the time to read it carefully and make sure you understand the details. It’s even smart to have someone else look it over as well. Only sign once you are confident with both the contractor and the contract in full.
A natural disaster that means serious damage to your home is a stressful time, but a contractor shouldn’t add to your stress or problems. Make sure that you look into all your options and carefully vet a contractor before signing the contract. Taking the time to work through the full process of hiring a restoration contract will help to ensure a better experience — not to mention a better result for your restoration project.