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How to Find the Right Home Renovation Contractor

When first exploring the feasibility of home remodeling—whether you want to transform the powder room into a half bath or take on a full gut rehab—the first step is to do some cost estimates and budget accordingly. After you’ve come to the conclusion that the timing and money is right to move forward with a home renovation, next comes the interview stage. 

The first interview should be a one-on-one with a qualified mortgage expert who will ask you some important financial questions on the way to helping you find the perfect home improvement loans. The second interview will be with a professional service vendor. It’s best if you have several interviews with a number of them to better inform your final decision. The quality of their work and the ease of your home remodel depends heavily on the questions and discussion you have up front.

couple choses paint colors for renovating their home

How do you start looking for a house remodeling contractor?

You want someone who gets the job done and get it done on time. A great way to start looking for solid home contractors is by talking with friends and family. Though word of mouth is not always airtight (Aunt Ginny’s recommendation of that super-weird independent film comes to mind), when it comes to your home, car or health, people tend to lend more weight to their recommendations than they do books, music and movies.

There’s little mystery why this is the case: if you didn’t particularly enjoy that independent film despite Aunt Ginny’s enthusiastic testimonial, you can have a good-natured debate with her about the merits and message of the film. However, if the incompetent electrician she recommends is ultimately responsible for your house going up in flames, she might feel a little worse about the information she supplied. Bottom line? The people closest to you will usually do everything they can to steer you in the right direction, so listen to what they have to say.

What research can identify a good house renovation vendor?

You can take any number of simple measures to get a good idea of which contractors are sincere and honest professionals and which are not all the way on the level. A few easy ones:

Review online reviews – Depending on the subject matter, the online community can be immature and sarcastic. But for online reviews regarding home remodels and the contractors who make them happen, the demographic is typically more enlightened and mature. You can confidently assume that a contractor with a high rating and repeated mentions in multiple postings is one you can trust.

Reach out – You can learn a lot from a phone call. When the person on the other end picks up, do they sound pert and professional or lethargic and disinterested? Are they articulate, clear and considerate or do they mumble, interrupt and make conversation difficult? Though one can argue that these qualities don’t dictate one’s ability to tile a floor or frame an addition, they nonetheless reflect relative emphasis on customer service. If it’s difficult to communicate or get insightful answers to questions on the first call, it won’t get any better from there. 

See and believe – If you didn’t like Aunt Ginny’s movie recommendation, she’d still love to show you her recent bathroom home improvement and give you the contractor’s contact info. So get on a video call or ask her to send pictures! There’s no better research you can do to find the right home renovation vendor than see the work for yourself.

Why should you talk to home renovation contractors in person?

Once you’ve identified a few home improvement contractors you’d like to work with, it’s always important to have them over for a consultation. While they’ll break down the requirements and realities of the renovation project you have in mind, you can make some key observations of them:

Presentation – Of course this isn’t a formal job interview and you’re not looking for a suit, tie and polished shoes. But a decent appearance has to be a point of consideration for any serious businessperson, because it reflects professionalism. Remember, this is someone you’ll be dealing with frequently over the next few months to even a year or more, so if you’re at all iffy about their air or how they present themselves to you, the client, you may want to consider another option.

Punctuality – Did they show up on time for your meeting? This is a big deal when it comes to finding the perfect home improvement expert. Your life runs on a schedule, and inevitably the home renovation can be a significant disruption to that schedule. In other words, time is of the essence and you want to work with someone who appreciates that concept. If they’re a few minutes early for the consult, you can feel great about their focus on efficiency and be happy that they respect your time as well.

Personality – This one is pretty straightforward. Again, because you’ll be seeing a lot of the person you entrust to oversee and execute your home improvement project, it’s best if you can enjoy a healthy working relationship with them. This doesn’t mean liking the same teams or voting for the same politicians, but general conviviality and consideration for others should be among their personal characteristics.

What is the best way to finance home improvements?

Notice that none of the advice above had anything to do with finances? That’s because there is no set value on time, quality and peace of mind. It’s up to you to find the very best professional contractor you can, and only if all things are equal between two top-tier candidates should the bid figures for your project contract come into consideration (assuming all bids fall within your previously established budget).

And when you’re not liquid enough to cover all the home renovation expenses, we provide excellent renovation loan products and home financing options to help. They include our home equity loans, cash-out refinancing, FHA 203k loan (rehab loan) and home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Contact one of our expert mortgage lenders today to find the perfect home improvement loans for your renovation project!