So, you’re thinking about remodeling your home or undertaking a construction project. You know this is a major endeavor that will require a lot of your time and money. But, you believe it’s the right thing to do to improve your home and make it a wonderful space for you and your family.
This is the point when most people ask the question “where do I begin”? Your first step might be doing some research online about your renovation project and its potential costs, so you can budget accordingly. And in most cases, step two is seeking out a few good home contractors in your area.
Finding a home contractor seems easy enough, right? Those guys advertise everywhere…you can find a bunch on Google, in the flyers that come in your junk mail, at the various online contractor listing or review sites, and even in magazines. It seems really easy to find a home contractor, but the challenge lies in finding a good one – someone who would be a good fit for your project, as well as your personality.
In Los Angeles County alone, there are over 20,000 licensed home contractors, so how could you possibly tell the good from the bad? That part is not as simple, which explains why over 50% of homeowners who renovate reported having a negative experience with their home remodeling contractor.
Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are looking for a quality home remodeling contractors. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable, pre-screened home contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience.
In this blog, we’ll share some ideas and resources to help guide you in finding the best home contractors for your projects.
How do I find a good home contractor near me?
We hear this question often from our clients and it’s truly an important question to ask. Hiring any old contractor can be a huge mistake, especially considering you’ll be spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on your remodeling project.
Once a homeowner hires a professional and the project begins, they really have no good options if their home contractor does poor work, overcharges them, is constantly delayed, or just acts unethically. Unfortunately, most homeowners find out way too late about their home renovation contractor’s shortcomings and this can create tons of stress, anxiety, and conflict.
If you want to have a successful & stress-free renovation experience, the most important thing you can do is hire an honest, reputable home contractor. Ideally, you want to find at least three home contractors that you can meet and interview.
The best way to find some good contractors is to ask friends, neighbors, or trusted colleagues for contractors they’ve used and liked. If you ask for recommendations on social media platforms, you should only trust recommendations from ‘real life’ friends. People you don’t know personally are often biased (they’ll recommend their cousin the contractor, etc).
If you don’t get enough good recommendations from friends and relatives, consider using a service that performs intensive contractor screening and offers personalized introductions to good home contractors (www.GreatBuildz.com or similar). Don’t just pick a random contractor from a flyer that came in your junk mail or from a nationwide contractor listing site.
There are just way too many home contractors out there to sift through. Although most of them have a 4- or 5-star rating, it’s really hard to know if their reviews are legitimate or fake, thus hard to separate the good from the bad.
How can I tell the good home contractors from the bad ones?
Once you’ve met and interviewed a few home remodeling contractors, how can you tell which one is best for you? Unfortunately, most homeowners make this decision based on only two criteria: they pick the contractor with the lowest bid or purely based on their ‘gut feeling’ of the contractor after just one meeting. These criteria are a good place to start, but not nearly enough to distinguish who would be the right fit for your needs.
Too often, homeowners want to choose the lowest-priced home contractors. That’s understandable because everyone likes to get a good price and not overpay for things. The problem is that unscrupulous contractors will sometimes bid a low price in order to win the job with the full intention of creating additional charges (change orders) during the project to enhance their profit. This can lead to an extremely frustrating experience for the client.
In order to avoid this type of frustration, I suggest getting at least three contractor bids, and even up to five if necessary. If one bid is significantly lower than the others, that should raise your suspicion. Some people like to throw out the top and bottom bids and choose one of the middle prices. But, before you can really compare these bids accurately, you have to make sure they are all ‘apples to apples’ and include the exact same scope.
When you meet a remodeling contractor, they are trying to sell you, so they are on their best behavior. Also, their cost estimate is important, but it tells you very little about whether they are reputable and honest.
So, these two parameters aren’t sufficient to determine which home contractors are best. Homeowners should therefore take further steps to screen their contractor candidates.
At GreatBuildz, we’ve developed a 10-point vetting process to screen home contractors. I suggest every homeowner perform as many of these steps as possible to protect themselves, but at least the following five:
- Check their reviews online. Read any negative reviews and determine how bad their behavior seems to you…and feel free to ask the contractor to explain their bad reviews.
- Do a contractor license lookup online. In California, you should navigate to CSLB License Database. Confirm that the home contractor has an active license without any complaints or derogatory remarks.
- Get a copy of their insurance certificate and ask their insurance broker to add you as ‘additional insured’.
- Call at least 3 references and take a look at pictures of their prior work.
- Interview the owner of the company (or at least the Project Manager who will be your day-to-day contact during the project). Ask them any questions that are important to you.
Who are the best home contractors near me?
At GreatBuildz, we take pride in recommending only reputable, highly-screened home contractors to our clients. In addition to the steps listed above, here are a few more factors we consider when evaluating pros.
Look for contractors that are good listeners and not pushy, boastful, or bad-mouth other professionals. Stay away from contractors who take longer than a week to respond to you or set an appointment. Also, be suspicious of home contractors that ask for a large deposit upfront to ‘hold’ your job. We prefer contractors who have been licensed for more than five years.
Finally, be aware that contractors who spend a lot on marketing like mailers, digital advertising, and fully wrapped trucks are likely to be expensive.
Here are just a few contractor profiles of the many great home contractors in the GreatBuildz network, coupled with a few qualities we believe make them excellent candidates for our clients:
If your friends, family, or colleagues can refer you to great home contractors like the ones above, that’s your best bet. If not, please reach out to our friendly staff at GreatBuildz to discuss your project, so we can match you to several amazing home contractors from our pre-screened network.
When it comes to finding the best remodeling contractor for your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.
Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com