Hiring a Contractor - How to Choose the Best Professional

January 8, 2021

So you are considering hiring a contractor. After putting off those home renovation projects for the past few months you are ready to tackle them! Now you need to know how to go about finding the right professional.

Hiring a contractor is a big decision! You need someone who has the qualifications and experience to do the job right the first time.

You also need to hire a general contractor you can trust. Chances are, at some point during your renovations they will be in your house when you are away or at work. So, they need to be trustworthy enough to be on their own.

How do you go about hiring a contractor you can trust? Fear not! We are here to help. Read on to discover everything you need to know about general contracting!

What Does a General Contractor Do?

It is always best to start at the beginning when it comes to such matters. So let’s do that!

There are two different interpretations of what a general contractor’s duties are. This is because not all general contractors describe themselves in the same way. Some general contractors consider their primary role to be supervisory. Others prefer to work independently.

General contractors who oversee subcontractors tend to supervise the entire renovation project. Some renovation projects require many different professionals. For example, if you are renovating your kitchen you may need a plumber, an electrician and a painter.

Without a general contractor, you would need to coordinate your professional’s schedules by yourself. If you hire a contractor they will organise these schedules with your project schedule. This will ensure that the project will flow smoothly and efficiently. It will also free up time so that you can spend more time doing what you love!

In contrast, independent general contractors often tackle many of the different renovation jobs themselves. Some general contractors have training in several different fields.

Take the example of your kitchen renovation. Say you need your backsplash tiled and new lighting installed. Some general contractors may have experience tiling and are also certified electricians. In this case, a general contractor might be able to complete your kitchen renovation on their own.

If you aren’t sure whether your general contractor works as a supervisor or on their own be sure to ask!


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Who Hires General Contractors?

As you sit there looking at your renovation project you might wonder if you need a general contractor. That then begs the question, who hires a general contractor?

The answer is simple, a lot of people! A general contractor ensures that no matter the project size the process runs smoothly. This means that a general contractor is handy to have for both small and large projects.

Is the renovation project you are looking at relatively small? If your project only involves one room you might think you could get away with doing the job yourself.

Before you start tackling the renovation yourself remember the kitchen example. Even though the kitchen is just one room, a kitchen renovation can be complex.

Do you know how to install lighting, fix wires, tile a backsplash or update plumbing? If not then you could run into trouble trying to finish the project yourself.

The kitchen is not the only room that can become complex either. A bedroom renovation sounds simple enough, right? Well, that depends on the situation.

Do you just need the walls painted, or do you need the flooring done as well? If you just need the walls painted consider if they need any plaster touch ups. If you aren’t familiar with plastering you could run into trouble even though the concept appears simple.

So, a lot of people hire a general contractor to ensure that even the smallest of jobs is completed efficiently.  Whether your contractor is a supervisor or independent they will know how to make your renovation perfect!

Why Should You Consider Hiring a Contractor?

If you look hard enough you can find a DIY article on just about anything. So, it is easy to forget that just because you can do something yourself it does not mean you should. Could you update or fix your plumbing and electrical wiring? Maybe you could. Does that mean you should? Maybe not.

Without proper training, if you meddle with your plumbing you could end up flooding your home. Trying to update your electrical wiring can also be dangerous. You don’t want to cut the wrong wires, and electrocute yourself!

Sometimes it is just better to leave it up the professionals! It will save your time, protect you from potential safety risks and even save you money.

Need help finding a top general contractor in your area? Easily compare quotes from contractors near you on Bidvine.


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Top Tips for Hiring a Contractor

1. Set a Realistic Budget

If you are considering renovating you might already have a figure in mind for the final cost. Still, that doesn’t mean you have finished your budget!

A proper renovation project needs to include more than just a final figure. Your renovation might involve many different elements like plumbing, tiling and painting. You need to figure out how much you are willing to spend on each of these tasks.

For the sake of saving money, most people want to pay the lowest cost for the highest value. Yet this is not always realistic.

If your project requires a lot of work, paying less could also mean lesser quality. So, when drafting the final budget you need to account for the complexity of the project.

Bidvine Tip - Get insight into the average cost of hiring a handyman in your area with our price guide.

2. Be Aware of Potential Problems

Do you live in an older home? Do you know if your wiring and plumbing are up to date? If you don’t you need to find out!

You don’t want to run the risk of discovering a potential problem mid-way through the project. If you are both aware of potential problems you will be able to tailor the project.

Being aware of these problems means the project is more likely to stay on budget. If you do not make yourself aware of these problems beforehand your bill could skyrocket! After all, your contractor may need to do extra work to fix the problem before they can continue to renovate.

3. Ask If Your Contractor Is Certified for the Job

If you are hiring a contractor from a larger company they may need to hold a Construction Skills Certificate Card or CSCS card. The CSCS card is a certification governed by the UK’s Construction Skills Certification Scheme. This is the primary scheme which regulates the qualifications for constructions workers and contractors. If a contractor has this card they have received a recognised standard of training.

Not all contractors are required to hold this certification. Some contractors will have gained their experience through an apprenticeship.

General contractors who work on electrical or plumbing projects should hold additional certifications. In the UK, electricians receive certification through either NAPIT Registration LTD. or Stroma Certification LTD. Plumbers are certified through the Joint Industry Board for Mechanical Engineering Services in England and Wales.

Has your general contractor offered to do electrical or plumbing work? Ask what their qualifications are. Certification ensures that your professional has received the proper training for the job. It also means they have received health and safety training.


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4. Make a Detailed Plan

Before you go about hiring a contractor, making a detailed plan is an absolute must. Just like your budget, in your project plan, you need to account for each step of the project.

Even though it may seem tedious at first, planning for each stage will help ensure success. A written plan will force you to contemplate exactly what you want. Knowing what you need will also help you make sure that you hire the right professional for the job.

Do you have several renovations in mind? Writing out a detailed plan will also help you rank the priority of your tasks. That way the most important projects will be dealt with first.

Having it in a written format will also ensure that your contractor is clear about your wishes. It will provide both of you with that extra piece of security to make sure no detail is forgotten!

5. Stick to Your Plans

While it is tempting to switch things up halfway through the project this could be a costly mistake! If you change your mind mid-way the contractor may need to redo work.

You should expect the final price to rise if you change your mind. After all, you are asking your contractor to do extra work because you chose to change the plans.

That being said sometimes things just come up. Maybe the paint was not what you had hoped for or maybe you discovered old wiring. Things do not always go as planned.

Whatever the case may be, it is important to talk to your contractor as soon as possible. The sooner you address the issue the sooner you will finish your renovations!

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6. Communicate Throughout the Renovation

Maintaining open communication with your general contractor throughout the project is vital. By checking in with your contractor on a regular basis you will be up to date with the renovation’s progress.

Open communication will also help if you run into any issues. If you are already regularly discussing things it will be easier to reach a solution together.

7. Ask for References

Any good contractor should be willing to provide you with references. If they are reluctant, this should raise a red flag.

There are a few different formats that references may take the shape of.

Contractors with a website might direct you to a references page. This page could include testimonials or reviews from past customers. Other contractors may provide you with the contact information of a past customer.

Providing photographs is yet another method of providing references. Some contractors will ask if they are able to take photos after they have finished the renovation. This way, they can show their future customers images of past projects they have worked on. The photo below was taken by a general contractor on Bidvine.


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8. Draft a Contract

Once you have finished hiring a contractor it is time to draft a contract. A contract provides security for both of you and will keep both of you on the ball.

With a contract that has a set renovation schedule, the project is more likely to finish on time.

Also, consider including a payment schedule in the contract. This will bring you both peace of mind because you will know exactly when payments will occur.

9. When Hiring a Contractor, Get Multiple Bids

When looking for a contractor it is important to get more than one bid for the project. If you have several bids you can decide which contractor will give you the most value for your dollar.

Not sure how to find several local contractors? Let us help! Submit a free request on Bidvine and get custom, detailed bids from contractors in your area.

10. Make Sure They Have Insurance

Most general contractors should have insurance. This protects both of you from liability and health and safety issues.

If you are not sure if your contractor has insurance, make sure to ask!

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