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We’ve all heard horror stories from friends who hired the cheapest contractor possible and ended up with an unfinished hack job, or a contractor that quoted one price only to give a bill that far exceeds the initial quote. There’s no shortage of potential issues that could arise, so hiring the best possible team for the job is key. Here’s how to ensure you don’t end up in a regrettable renovation situation.

Do your research. The digital age means there’s no shortage of ways to find out just how trustworthy and worth it your contractor is. Search online and dig deep—read every review you can find and look for the contractor that’s consistently high rated.

Get recommendations. While you can find a wealth of useful information online, it’s always best to talk to your friends and family and see what kind of experience they’ve had with their contractors. Personal recommendations are the best insurance policy. They’ve already experienced how a particular contractor works, and if they’ve had a resoundingly positive experience, there’s no reason you wouldn’t, as well.

Interview your shortlist. After you’ve done the research and found some outliers your friends recommend, you should have a strong shortlist to call up for more information. This will give you a good amount of information to work with if you ask the right questions. A few to consider:

  • When are they available to begin the project?
  • A ballpark quote based on the information you provide.
  • Are they able to help with the overall design?
  • Do they provide the permits?
  • How long have they and their subcontractors been working in this field?
  • Can they provide financial references and a list of previous customers?

Bring them in for a quote. The phone interviews should have given you a few potential options that you’re excited about. These are the ones you should bring in for a face-to-face quote based on the project you want them to take on. You’ll get a better feel for the overall experience by talking to them in-person and, of course, you’ll get a close estimate for the budget they’ll need to complete it. This team can be in your home for a long time, so you want to feel completely comfortable around them.

Choose the best option available. After this, you’ll know which team is the best choice for your home. And don’t fall for the lowest bidder either, as this team might be desperate for work for a reason. Also, steer clear of those asking for a big lump sum up front, as that can indicate that they’re in a bad financial situation or have had issues getting paid in the past due to poor work. Once you’ve made your choice, draw up a clear contract that lays out start and end dates, materials to be used, liability insurance and the payment schedule.

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