When you’re about to undertake a new home improvement project, one of the biggest decisions to make is whether to do it yourself or hire a contractor. Some homeowners are well equipped with the knowledge and tools required for a major renovation—not to mention the time and desire to do a big project themselves. But for the rest of us, we prefer to call in a professional. Here’s what to expect from a contractor, and how to choose one that’s right for you.
What does a contractor do?
A contractor is a project manager for a construction project, like a home renovation. A contractor will have in-depth knowledge of what’s needed to get a project done, from the order of operations, to the supplies and equipment needed, to organizing labor and project timelines.
There are generally two kinds of contractors:
- General contractors oversee an entire project, and may hire subcontractors to take care of individual tasks.
- Subcontractors report to the general contractor, not the homeowner.
For example, you might decide to hire a general contractor to remodel your kitchen. This contractor would help you plan the new kitchen and would be solely responsible for organizing the remodel project. They in turn might hire separate subcontractors for things like electrical and plumbing work, or to install cabinets, countertops, and appliances.
Should I hire a contractor?
There are many reasons a homeowner might want to hire a contractor to take charge of a project. For most of us, we simply don’t have the knowledge necessary to undertake a large project, like a remodel, ourselves.
But there are many other reasons to hire a contractor, including:
- Time. Major home improvement projects can take a significant amount of time. For people juggling employment, families, and other life commitments, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do a big project on your own.
- Quality. Although some people might have some skill with a hammer, there’s a wide spectrum between casual do-it-yourselfers and true professionals. To get a project done without costly mistakes, many people opt to call in an expert.
- Resources. Even a skilled homeowner won’t necessarily have the fully stocked workshop of tools, access to suppliers, and long-standing connections with other area professionals that a contractor would. Hiring a contractor means hiring their resources as well as their expertise, saving you the time it would take to shop around, and preventing bad decisions on subcontractors.
- Regulations. Jobs like rewiring electrical elements don’t just require technical skill— some of them require legal certification. A contractor will make sure that professionals are certified to do their work and that your project is up to code.
How to choose a contractor
Hiring a contractor can be a big investment, so it’s important to be comfortable with and confident in whomever you’re hiring. A good contractor will be up-front about the costs of your project, and you should feel at ease paying for the work that will be delivered.
Here are a few ways to ensure your contractor is a person you can trust:
- Read reviews. Although online reviews can be misleading, it’s still helpful to know what other people are saying about your contractor. Best practices are to look at average ratings in context of total number of reviews. A 2-out-of-5 rating isn’t that meaningful when there’s only a few reviews, but would be bad if there were hundreds of ratings. And read some of the longer comments on the best and worst reviews.
- Ask around. Your personal network can be one of the best ways to get recommendations you trust. Have any friends or family members in your area worked with a contractor lately? Personal recommendations can be one of the best ways to find a trustworthy contractor.
- Use branded providers. Branded providers like Sam’s Club Home Install Experts™ by Service Finance can offer a higher level of service, especially if anything were to go wrong with a contractor. That’s because they’ve put in the effort to build the reputation of their brand and to build trust with customers.
Ready to hire a contractor for your next home improvement project or renovation? Sam’s Club Members have access to free, no-obligation consultations through Sam’s Club Home Install Experts™ by Service Finance. Contact us today to book a consultation with one of our licensed professionals.