How to Hire a Home Improvement Contractor - dummies

How to Hire a Home Improvement Contractor

By Gene Hamilton, Katie Hamilton

Hiring a contractor for your home improvement project requires time, planning, and patience. However, taking the time to hire a home improvement contractor who’s right for your job can save you both time and money in the end.

  1. Know what you want before you begin.

    Before you talk to a contractor you need to have an idea of the type, style, and features you want. The more you know about what you want the more accurate the contractor can be in his or her bids.

  2. Find potential contractors.


    Talk to friends and neighbors to see if they have any contractors they can recommend. Or, try using a service like Angie’s List to find contractors who have a proven track record. Try to find contractors who have plenty of experience on houses or projects similar to yours. Finding the right candidates can go a long way toward ensure the success of your project.

  3. Get estimates and bids for the project.

    Ask the contractors you interview to give you an estimate for what they think the project will cost. As a general rule, try getting three estimates to compare.

  4. Sign a contract.

    Be sure to protect yourself by outlining the entire project in writing. In addition to financial arrangements, the contract should include information about liability, warranty, cleanliness, permits, and the unexpected.

It’s important to understand that regardless of how well thought out an estimate is, the contractor won’t know the full extent of a project until they start taking things apart. There could be problems with wiring or plumbing that is not visible until walls are removed. Be sure that your contract and your budget account for these kinds of unexpected situations.

Make sure that all the contractors are bidding for the same level of service so that you can compare specific tasks. For example, one contract for carpet replacement could include disposal of the old carpet at no charge, while another contract might charge you for it — or not offer the disposal service at all.