Like many people, I love watching home improvement shows on HGTV. The designers and contractors are fun, happy, and always satisfy their client. They make it look easy and affordable to tackle any home improvement project. The trouble comes when the next show is a home improvement “gone wrong,” showing how doing a simple project wrong can cost much more than never doing the work to begin with. But some home improvements cannot be held off for long and ultimately need to be done.
Apart from auditioning to be on an HGTV show, what do you need to do to make a renovation your home? You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and see what it would take to do it yourself. If DIY is not an option, contact a contractor. The usual ways to find a contractor are to ask friends or colleagues and search Yelp or Angie’s List. Not many people think to ask their Realtor. Even if it’s been years since you’ve bought your home, your Realtor has a select database of all kinds of contractors they and others in their company have used and your Realtor would be happy to help you find someone.
Once you have a name, don’t just hire them, interview them. In fact, it would be better to have more than one name.
A few key factors to look for in your contractor:
- Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and certified. If your home was built before 1978, a contractor has to RRP (repair, renovate, and paint) certified. Since homes before 1978 may have used lead paint, certified contractors will know the new regulations and guidelines to make home improvements safely.
- Trust your contractor. This is why I recommend interviewing a few contractors. When I say, “interview,” I don’t mean pick the one with the lowest quote. They may say the home improvement will cost X and be done by Y, but there may be delays and obstacles, making the price XXX and done by “who knows when.” Ask about other similar projects they have done, how long it took, etc. It’s crucial to feel comfortable and trust your contractor. This way if something does come up, you will listen to them even if it’s not something you want to hear.
- Ask about subcontractors they use and research them. Certain home improvement projects will require your primary contractor to use subcontractors (plumbers, electrician, etc.). Like your Realtor, a contractor has spent years to develop a trusted list of vendors that work in every aspect they may need.
Keep in mind if this project is for your enjoyment or resale value. If your home improvement project is for resale proposes, consult at Realtor to find out how much value it will actually add to your listing price. Also read what projects get the best ROI before starting a home improvement project.