Before talking to any contractors the first thing to do is create a budget for the project. Without a budget you will be flying blind and may end up over spending. Having a tight budget will also help you make decisions about what kind of fixtures, and materials to purchase. Most products have a wide price range and having a budget will help keep you in line when making buying decisions.
After you have your budget dialed in get three written estimates from three different contractors. Be sure the estimate is complete; getting a “written” estimate on the back of a business card is not a sign of a good contractor. Getting three estimates will enable you to compare prices from different contractors. Take the time to talk with each contractor and get a feel for which one you will be most comfortable working with and having in your home. Be sure and pay attention to things like who shows up on time and who is prepared to talk about your project. If a contractor shows up late to your appointment chances are they will show up late when working on your project.
While you are in the process of selecting a contractor it is a good idea to make sure they have the proper license, insurance, and bonding. All three of these items are in place to protect homeowners. Working with a contractor who isn’t licensed or doesn’t have the proper insurance might come back to haunt you. A good contractor will show you copies of these documents when they present your written estimate.
The next step is to check the references of the contractor you are leaning towards selecting. Be sure to ask specific questions about their experience with the contractor. “Did the contractor show up on time?” “Did the contractor clean up after themselves?” If you want to be more aggressive you can ask the contractor for the names and numbers of their last three jobs and call those instead of their handpicked references. This will provide a more realistic overview of the contractors daily work habits and skills.
The last step is to select your contractor and have them provide you a timeline for the completion of the project. Having a timeline will help ensure your project is completed in a timely manner.