Before you hire a contractor

Before you hire a contractor

Home improvement is a top source of consumer complaints nationwide.  Escape a bad remodeling experience by considering the following.

The lowest bidder isn’t always the best option. 
Your home is your biggest investment, is it worth the risk saving a few dollars for a substandard job?  Plus, will the lowest bidder jack up the price later?  Are you comparing apples to apples?  Is the lowest bidder using the same quality materials?  Does the installer have years of experience?  This could be the difference between a lower and higher estimate.

Get it in writing.
Your estimate should contain a detailed description of the scope of the job, materials, time frame and costs.

Be sure to ask for a written warranty.  Do not accept a verbal guarantee.  The warranty should be clear and concise as to what is and isn’t covered.  A one year warranty is the industry standard.

Check References.
If a contractor won’t give you references, why not?  If they do give you references, following are questions you should ask:

  • Did the contractor keep the schedule?
  • Were you pleased with the job?
  • If you had a problem, was it resolved to your satisfaction?
  • Would you hire him again?
  • Would you recommend him?

Does he have a local number and office address?
If he is working out of his truck and you have a problem, you may not be able to get it resolved.

Check contractor’s insurance coverage.
A contractor should be willing to show you documentation from the insurance company.

General Liability Insurance.
Contractor and sub-contractor’s should carry at least a one million dollar policy.

Workers Compensation Insurance.
If the contractor doesn’t carry and someone is hurt on your job, you could be liable.

Lead base paint.
If your house was built before 1978, it may have lead base paint.  Is the contractor an EPA Certified Renovator as required by law?

Ask about their professional affiliations.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) are professional organizations.  In order to become a member, the contractor’s background and references are investigated.  A reputable contractor will usually belong to one or both.  If they don’t, why not?

Do they obtain the necessary permits?

What are their working standards?
What time do they start?  Do they install a dust containment system, cover your floors?  Stay on the job until it is complete?

What is your responsibility?
Know as much as possible what you want.  Changes mean time and money.


  1. I like how you pointed out the difference between a low bid and a good contractor. It can definitely be difficult to know when you are getting the best help, but if you’re only focusing on price, you’ll be less likely to get the help that you need. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal for good service, but you definitely shouldn’t just jump at the lowest bid.

  2. We live in Steamboat Springs and were given your name by Martha Berry and Rob Zeiss. You recently helped them with their bathroom remodel. We are getting ready to tackle a remodel as well. I will do, or attempt, to do most of the work. We are looking forward to visiting your showroom when we visit GJ the next time. I am very interested in your in house built shower pans. If you could send me a picture or two and a ball park price list I would greatly appreciate it. Our current pan is 32″ X 42″ with a center drain. We plan to keep the current shower in size and location. I am going to retile the walls of the shower and possibly the bathroom floor. Any information you could give us would be appreciated.


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