Whether your project is small-scale or a complete build, hiring the right contractor is the most important thing you can do to ensure your remodeling dream doesn’t become a nightmare. Follow these steps to guarantee your contractor is qualified:
1. Ask for an itemized estimate that outlines the scope of the project, materials used, hours anticipated and final cost. It’s common for estimates to have “wiggle room” to cover the unforeseen, but if your contractor can’t provide these details, walk away fast.
2. Check your contractor’s licensing and insurance, and verify who will be filing for all permits. In Minnesota, call the Dept. of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5069 or use their online licensing/certificate search to verify the contractor’s license. Minnesota Valley Construction’s licensure is available for all to see, and is a great example of what to look for.
3. There's no substitute for experience. Ask to see photos of past projects so that you can judge the contractor’s skills, and ask about code requirements as a test of the contractor’s knowledge.
4. Ask for references of past clients whom you can call. Nothing speaks better about a contractor’s skill and honesty than the words of those who have hired him or her before.
5. Expect straight answers. Regardless of the question, vague answers should be a red flag; after all, if you can't get straight answers before you've hired the contractor, how will you be able to trust that person once the work has begun?