Fall is a great time to consider more significant home improvements including bathroom and kitchen remodeling, exterior residing and shingling, and landscaping upgrades and improvements. With the holidays still months away many projects can be completed before guests, turkeys, and trees begin occupying your time. If your project is a more significant undertaking, you can at least begin a conversation so that improvements can be done next year. With this in mind here are our top five considerations when hiring a contractor.
1. ASK AROUND
The most significant way to spare yourself a headache down the road is to ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences. If you notice quality craftsmanship at a dinner party, ask about the responsible contractor; if exterior repairs and painting look stunning, check for signs in the yard; if landscaping is exquisite... well, you get the idea. If someone comes highly recommended they more than likely do a great job. The trim pictured at left should raise a red flag if newer construction; in this case, this is 30 years old and in an outdoor shower, we figure we'll cut the builder some slack.
A good contractor will stand by their work so ask to see examples (particularly of older work to determine longevity). If a contractor does a dynamite paint job that in two years is chipping away, consider going elsewhere; also be aware that interior work is difficult to see in occupied homes but you can always ask the contractor - as should be obvious, inviting yourself onto others' property is inappropriate. If you don't like the work they do, don't use them. We love the custom tile work at 9 Osborn Snow Drive in East Dennis, pictured at right, as well as so much more in this luxury home.
3. EXPECT A WRITTEN CONTRACT
While operating on a handshake is doable, writing down your specific agreement insures both you and the contractor know what is expected. Written contracts can easily be appended in the event of changes so don't think they lock you into an immutable arrangement (also four months is a long time to remember whether the painter was responsible for trim on the dog house or not). Our advice - make sure 'clean-up' is well defined and a part of any agreement.
4. GET MULTIPLE BIDS
Too often people go with the first offer without considering other bids - this is a mistake. Furthermore asking for bids from multiple contractors informs one of the most important things about them, their timeliness. Frequently we make four or five calls for a job and receive only two calls back. No matter how highly recommended someone is they don't win points by being hard to reach, late with offers, or otherwise discourteous in any way.
Even excellent contractors can't make every deadline and there are plenty of legitimate reasons why something may not go as expected. Good contractors are busy and may not be able to work with you for months, or even years. In addition, when you are working with someone don't expect that they will be able to do everything today, be understanding with reasonable delays, and be kind. If things aren't going as expected then you can always refer to your written contract about how to end the work. In fact, the land at 196 Baxter Street, South Dennis - pictured at left - has been on a contractors docket for nearly 15 years, but we are constantly reassured a house will be built any day now (just kidding of course. But give us a call if you are interested in this land...it is a lot to love.)
If you have any questions about how home improvements affect your property in the market feel free to contact us today, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.