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If you’re planning to renovate your home, choosing the right contractor is critical. You have probably been advised to seek word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family members. While those can certainly be helpful, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively.

The Contractor May Not Have Experience Relevant to Your Project
Your friend or family member may point you toward a qualified contractor, but that company is not necessarily the right one for your project. It’s important to consider what the contractor did for the person who made the recommendation. Hiring someone who does not have much experience with the type of work you want to have done could be a mistake, even if that contractor did a stellar job with someone else’s project and received a glowing recommendation.

For example, your friend may have been thrilled after having the kitchen remodeled by a company that renovates kitchens all the time. If you want someone to build you a new deck, however, that company may not be the right choice if it has only built a handful of decks for other customers. 

You Might Have Issues With Subcontractors
General contractors often hire subcontractors, such as plumbers and electricians, to complete parts of a project. Some contractors run a tight ship and keep a close eye on their subcontractors to make sure their work meets high standards, but others  don’t. Ask a contractor you are considering if subcontractors would handle some of the work. If so, ask who the subcontractors would be, how the contractor would oversee their work and how complaints would be handled. 

You Might Prefer a Different Communication Style
Ask about the contractor’s method and frequency of communication. Maybe the contractor your friend hired responded to emails at the end of the day and that was fine with your friend, but you prefer to communicate via text and want the contractor to respond quickly if you have a question or concern. Make sure the contractor’s communication style would work for you. 

Research Contractors Before Making a Decision
Always get bids from at least a few contractors. Invite each of them to your home to see its current condition firsthand and to discuss the changes you want to make. That will allow them to give you detailed estimates based on specific details, not assumptions, so you can compare apples to apples.

Ask for each contractor’s license and insurance information and request the same information for any subcontractors that might work on the renovation project. Verify the information with your state and local governments. Also ask about the background check process for subcontractors.

Check each contractor’s online reviews and request references from recent clients. Focus on comments from people who had projects done that were similar to what you want. If you come across multiple comments about issues such as dishonesty, poor quality of work, lack of responsiveness or unwillingness to address complaints, think twice before hiring that contractor.