When hiring a contractor for a home renovation or outdoor living reno, most homeowners will look at the “basic” criteria that people look for when hiring construction services or a general contractor to complete a job at their home. These include things like, Does the contractor have insurance, do they provide a written contract, do they go good work, how long have they been in business for and what does their payment schedule look like.
This article is designed to delve a little deeper into what you should look for when hiring a contractor, and is meant to be thought provoking. Each homeowner will have a different set of qualities that they are they looking for in a contractor, as we each value different things.
The most important part of a job is what your outcome is, and how the process went for you. Doing a project at your home is stressful enough, without having to worry about if you hired the right person to do the job for you.
But, aren’t all contractors the same?
One of the biggest misconceptions about contractors in general are that they are all equal. This notion is based on the fact that landscaping and construction are a commodity, when in reality they are not. When it comes to projects, it can be easy to assume that whoever you hire is going to produce the job the exact same way, with the exact same outcome. In reality, no two contractors are alike, and no job will be done the same way.
- Have varying levels of expertise/education/experience
- Value different aspects of a project
- Have different types of machines
- Use different materials
- Solve problems in different ways
- Communicate differently
- Conduct themselves in different ways
Because of all of these variables, it is important for you as the customer to know what you put value on.
Your part as the customer/Homeowner
There is no such thing as customer school, and in general, some of us are better customers than others. This may seem like a strange concept, but think about what an ideal customer is for a minute. An ideal customer is someone who is educated on what they are looking to have done, and they understand in depth what is going to work for them, and solve their problem. When the customer figures this out, they are better equipped to hire someone who aligns with their needs and expectations of a job.
It is impossible to be able to figure out what you want out of your project without having some sort of plan on what to base your hiring standards on. This is where certain metrics come into play, and your part as a customer starts. Remember, not all projects are the same. The workmanship that goes into your project can vary drastically from contractor to contractor. The responsibility of choosing a contractor can seem overwhelming, but luckily there are metrics that you can look at to help you choose who is going to be the best contractor for you.
(The following metrics are in no particular order)
They say that communication is the key to any good relationship, and believe it or not, having a good relationship with your contractor will make your project go by smoother, and your end result will be better. By having open communication with your contractor, both of you will be able to speak up if problems arise. You will be able to make sure that your project is going exactly how you envisioned, and your contractor will be open and honest about what they can do for you and why.
Knowing all of your options for a job will allow you to better understand all of the aspects of your project, and the best options for you and your family. Is your contractor educating you on what this project entails, and why they designed your project the way that they did? Are they sending you information that you can read to better understand what you are going to get out of your job? By being more informed, you will be able to make educated choices on your project.
Reviews are a great way to learn about how your contractor interacts with customers, and how they execute the services they provide. Google reviews are unbiased, and are strictly from the customers point of view. Reading Google reviews on the company you are looking to hire will give insight on how a business and contractor conducts themselves. Reviews truly give us an honest perspective of a contractor from someone else’s point of view.
Gut feeling about contractor
Just as communication is important, your gut feeling about your contractor should be a factor in whether you hire them or not. Do you feel that they are genuine and are trying to help you solve your problem? You can tell a lot about a person by how they conduct themselves, how they speak to you, and how they present themselves. If a contractor is put together, educated, and willing to give you straight facts about your project, they are most likely going to be someone you can trust.
When having a project done at your house, having a budget will help you narrow down what type of contractor you can hire, and what the outcome of your project will be. ( Why is a landscaping project budget is important). While you should not be going into debt to have a project done, you need to think about what you are willing to spend, and why.
Word of mouth
We value our family and friends’ opinions, and truly take their advice and recommendations to heart. When a friend (or Facebook group) recommends a contractor, think about what that person values out of their project. Do their values align with yours? If a high google review rating is important to you, but your friend values the job being done quickly and on time, they might be hiring a contractor that you might not necessarily hire.
Some other things to consider
- Does the contractor provide a warranty?
- What pre job planning is done?
- Do they follow up with you after the job is complete?
- Are they respectful on site?
- How do they remedy the site after a project is completed?
As a customer and homeowner, it can be quite easy to get caught up in the surface parts of a job, and forget about the things that really matter to you. By truly taking the time to educate yourself on your project and your contractor, your project can go smoothly, and the end result will be what you have dreamt of. Remember, the process of hiring someone that is right for you should not be rushed.
How to use these metrics
Now that you know the main metrics used to hire a contractor, how do you prioritize them? Take the time to think about what you truly value, and why these factors are important to you. Be sure to add any that you think may be relevant to you. Once a list is compiled, come up with a way to mark them. As an example, you could list each metric from 1-5, and when speaking with each contractor give them a score. The higher the score, the more your contractor will be able to meet your job requirements and needs.