You’ve finally decided it’s time to remodel your bathroom. How you proceed now can mean the difference between a smooth process and agonizing regret. Home improvement contractors aren’t all made the same—some do a better job than others—but you have control over who you decide to work with. Read these tips on choosing a bathroom remodel contractor to boost your odds of finding the right one.
Ask for Referrals
A list of potential contractors is a start, but it doesn’t tell you much about them. However, someone who has worked with the contractor can tell you a lot. Word of mouth is a powerful tool; if a relative, friend, or neighbor had a positive experience with a contractor, it gives you an idea of the quality of service to expect.
Check Out Reviews
Online reviews are easy to find. There are many sites to pick from, including Google and Yelp, where you can search for reviews and compare companies. A few negative reviews shouldn’t count any one contractor out—perhaps they resolved the issue discussed—but if most comments are bad and the contractor has a low star rating, move on. Some contractors will use apps or software like pulseM to encourage customers to leave reviews, and that’s a good thing. It means you have more testimonials to read, which will help you make a more informed decision.
Ask to See Completed Projects
The contractor’s portfolio should be available on their website. If you meet with them, they should be eager to share pictures of previous work on paper or digitally. Viewing past projects, preferably over the last year, helps determine if the contractor is right for your bathroom remodeling project. A good portfolio has before/after photos, project plans, sketches, and other items demonstrating their approach.
Skip that contractor if the images are poor quality, few projects are listed, and/or completed work doesn’t meet your quality standards. Be on the lookout for the following:
- Cheap-looking materials
- Poor lighting conditions
- Walls/ceilings with dark stains
- Slanted floors
- Streaked or splattered paint
- Crooked tiles or cracked grout
- Excess edge grout/caulking to hide defects
Review Their Business Experience
Research the companies that are recommended to you. Whether online or by phone, check whether the contractor has the appropriate state and local licenses and is affiliated with professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association or the National Association of Homebuilders. Also, research the contractor’s certifications and what these mean. In terms of business experience, look for:
- Professional designations such as Certified Bath Designer (CBD) or Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR).
- A permanent mailing address and clear contact information, including a phone/cell number and email address.
- Proper insurance will protect you from liability if any accidents occur in your home.
- Length of time in business and in the community.
- Reputation/track record of success among customers and peers.
Interview Multiple Contractors
It may be tempting to contact as many as possible, but overdoing this step can make the process more complicated. Industry experts typically recommend setting up meetings with three contenders. When you interview candidates, listen to how they answer your questions and observe their willingness to listen to you. In addition to finding the most competitive bid, this process lets you find a contractor that’s relatable, which can put your mind at ease.
Get the Contract in Writing
Don’t just take a contractor’s word for it. Even a well-intentioned contractor can forget, misinterpret, or otherwise stray from an original figure. Ballpark numbers are fine, but when it comes to a bid price, get it in writing.
Make sure a complete legal agreement is drafted. It should include the payment schedule, scope of work, and site plan as well as a change-order clause and warranty information.
Be Cautious When Choosing the “Cheapest Contractor”
The renovation of a bathroom is a costly endeavor, therefore everyone wants to save money. Before choosing the lowest-priced contractor, however, it is crucial to tread carefully and conduct adequate research. First, carefully check and compare your estimates. A low price may indicate that elements are missing from the bid or that the contractor intends to use inferior materials. In addition, if a contractor’s pricing is much lower than other bids, they may be overly eager for the job and intend to boost their profit margin by charging you more for “additional work” or “change orders.” Be cautious when selecting a contractor, as sometimes you get what you pay for.
Don’t Just Go With Your Gut Instinct
Its ok to let your gut help you choose the right contractor, but don’t base your decision solely on a feeling you get. Of course, your gut will tell you if you like the contractor you’re meeting with and feel like you would get along well with their personality. Alternatively, you may be instantly put off by the person and your gut will tell you it wont be a good fit. And this is obviously one important factor in your decision. However, try to remember that this person is on their best behavior as they are trying to sell you their services. They may even tell you whatever you want to hear so that they get the job.
So don’t let their friendliness be the only factor you use in deciding on the ideal contractor. The contractor might be super-friendly in person but then neglect to return your call for weeks. Now your positive gut feeling about them has instantly turned negative. The best way to truly judge the ‘character’ of a potential contractor is to work with them through the entire bidding process. You’ll notice whether they were a good listener, attentive to your needs and budget, helpful with reasonable suggestions, responsive with their communications and reasonable with their price.
Get Help Choosing a Bathroom Remodel Contractor
With these steps, you can find a good renovation contractor with a little time and patience. GreatBuildz offers an even simpler solution. We can personally match you with pre-screened contractors in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego suited for your needs, at no cost, and we offer ongoing project support. To learn more or get started, call 818-317-3567 today.