How to keep costs low when working with a pro
Hiring a contractor for your home renovation project is a smart investment, but one that can start to balloon past estimates and expectations if you haven’t prepared properly on your end. When hiring a contractor, consider these hints to help you get great project results on time and on budget:
- Work only with the best: That means asking trusted friends and family members for contractor references, and then following up with your own careful check of their license status, insurance standing, and reviews from other customers, before hiring the contractor.
- Be very clear about what you want: For example, if you’ve decided to redo your kitchen and start calling contractors for estimates without having done adequate research and window shopping beforehand, you’re apt to get wildly diverse proposals that are impossible to compare. Conversely, by researching all aspects of your proposed kitchen remodel beforehand, you’ll have a set of “specs” to share with the contractors at the time you request bids. As a result, contractors will be building their proposals around the same elements, and you’ll already be so familiar with the products and finishes you’ve chosen that you’ll be more likely to be happy with the finished project.
- Read contracts carefully: Before hiring a contractor, make sure you understand every cost and contingency, line by line. It’s often the items specified in the fine print that can surprise you and deplete your wallet at exactly the wrong moment.
- Avoid scheduling your project in prime time: Anyone who has ever had to hire a plumber to unclog a drain on Christmas knows the impact that paying double-overtime can have on the ol’ holiday spirit. Early or late-season work will always be more affordable than emergency or high-season service. Before hiring a contractor, build as much flexibility as possible into your schedule, as they’ll be able to fit the work into a dry period in their team’s schedule with a possible discount.
- Double up on service. Again, saving money is all about being prepared and knowing exactly what you need to have accomplished. For example, when I had my AC serviced over the summer, I had my contractor take care of maintenance on the heating system at the same time. It saved me some money, and my system was ready to go once outdoor temperatures dropped.
Even the most die-hard DIYer needs professional home help every once in a while. Proceed carefully when hiring a contractor to help to make sure your project comes out as expected.