How hard can it be? You want a new kitchen, bath, basement, roof. They want a new client. You agree on the budget and then live happily-ever-after. 

End of story…right?

For anyone that truly believes this is true – there’s no reason to read on.

But, if you have concerns, questions…FEAR, there’s a simple lesson on what you need to know to be the “dream” client for the “perfect” contractor.

Tell them what you have in mind – You’re the boss; you’re the one driving this process. Before you call in a contractor, make a roadmap so they know what direction you want them to go…and where you expect them to end up. Take some time and really think about your project. Collect pictures of ideas you have seen that you like. Talk about amenities and products you have an interest in. Help them see your vision.

Get ideas and bids from several firms – Find out how contractors stack up when compared. Who has the best ideas? Who gave you valuable information? Who did you feel comfortable with? Who didn’t you “click” with? Who has the best cost? You’ve heard it before; often the cheapest isn’t the best way to go.

Check ‘em out – Get a full company name and address. Make sure any contractor you consider has a current state or city license and insurance coverage…then get their insurance policy numbers and a copy of their license…THEN verify that they are current. Research any formal complaints or legal actions that have occurred or are pending.

Parnell Quinn, the owner of The Simple Life, further explains, “Electricians and plumbers are regulated by DORA (the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies for the state of Colorado.) But, Colorado does not offer a statewide general contractor’s license. All contractor’s licenses are granted at the municipal level.”

Find out history and habits – Take time to visit projects they have done. See their work firsthand. Talk to past customers. Can the contractor under consideration show you work similar to what you’re interested in doing? Are they specialists in one particular room (like a certified kitchen or bath expert) or are they generalists (they claim they do everything.)  

First Impressions – Was your phone call returned promptly? Do company vehicles look safe, clean, etc.? Did you meet with the contractor/owner or a salesman? Were they articulate and did he/she listen to what you said and understand your needs/values/wants? Were your questions answered fully? What you see and experience in that first meeting is usually what you get – pay attention! 

Set boundaries – Establish some ground rules and have a mutual understanding of expectations. Often it’s the small stuff that makes the big difference in your satisfaction level. Discuss parking, clean up, smoking, bathroom use, music, hours acceptable for work to be performed.

Know exactly what you’re paying for – Be aware of EVERY. SINGLE. CONTRACT. DETAIL. Know start date and end dates. Make sure permits and fees are listed (and know that your contractor will handle them but you are LEGALLY responsible!) Understand if any subcontractors will be used and if so, ask for their insurance and get a warranty on their workmanship. Make sure there’s wording in the contract that talks about who will pay for the subcontractors. Have construction and amenities to be used listed with specific product names and details. Make sure the services your contractor talked about doing are clearly listed. Payment terms should also be clear. If either party defaults, there should be wording regarding the consequences.

As always, taking the time to do the proper investigations, reading, and UNDERSTANDING all contracts, and good communication goes a long way towards a satisfactory job…for both you and the vendors you will work with.