If you are looking to increase the value of your property or improve curb appeal, then that often means updating spaces and remodeling. And, you’ll probably need a good Stowe contractor sooner or later to finish the project.

The process of finding – and hiring – a contractor can be stressful; the real estate market is littered with stories of contractors misjudging costs, abandoning projects or worse. But, luckily, most contractors are reputable and, with work well done, will increase the return on your property for the future.

To avoid contractor trouble, we have the following suggestions:

Recommendations.

Ask family and friends who they have used (successfully) on home renovations or remodels. Speak with individuals whose business intersects with contractors, such as building inspectors or your local lumberyard; they can let you know who is “up to code.” And, you can also give us a call; we have a number of local contractors that we know who might be perfect for your project. We’d be happy to help!

Phone Interviews.

Once you have a list in place, we recommend a quick call to each prospective contractor. You can learn a lot about a company’s availability – and reliability – by asking a few questions.

  • Experience with projects of your size.
  • Number of projects that might be happening at the same time as yours.
  • License and permits to legally complete your project (weed out unlicensed individuals).
  • Time in business (inexperienced companies come with additional risks).
  • Distance from your home.
  • Available project and financial references (to help you choose between contractors later on).
  • Subcontractor relationships (those actually doing the work).
  • Owner protections, including warranties, workers’ compensation and liability insurance.

Face to Face.

Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. If the contractor makes you nervous or can’t answer your questions in a way that you understand, then that contractor might not be a good match for you or your project.

References.

Make phone calls to recent clients and visit past projects, especially those similar to yours. Walk through a current job site (if you can) to see for yourself how the contractor works. Remember, they are applying for a job and you are the new “boss.” Consider choosing a contractor with a minimum of five years of experience.

Plans and Bids.

Whether you have a plan in mind or are relying on the expertise of the contractor, write out as much specific information about your project (materials, fixtures, examples, etc.) for each contractor submitting a bid so that everyone is using the same information when they provide a cost breakdown:

  • Expenses. Tasks such as subcontractor bids, building permits, and finish carpentry
  • Materials. Costs of all building materials
  • Fixtures. List the costs of all fixtures to be installed
  • Labor. Calculate the cost of labor

Get this itemized budget of all costs associated with the project up front, so you have an idea of the total cost of the project and how the money is being allocated. This will allow you to evaluate differences in the plans, make suggestions and have more control.

Bid beware! The lowest bid might not be the “best” deal in the long-run. The Vermont contractor of choice could use inferior materials or cut corners elsewhere.

Schedule.

Make sure the timeline will have a specific start and end date, including checkpoints along the way. Check the payment schedule for the project. Large projects require a percentage upfront at contract signing, additional payments (%) throughout the course of the project and a final check when the job is completed.

Final Decision.

The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is communication. All things being equal, it’s better to spend more and get someone you’re comfortable with.

Get Everything in Writing.

Decision is made! Draw up a contract that details every step of the project:

  • Payment schedule.
  • Proof of insurance and other owner/project protections.
  • Specific start and end dates.
  • Materials and other fixtures to be used.

Making sure that everything is clear from the beginning will help create a successful renovation! Trust William Raveis Stowe Realty for all of your Stowe real estate needs — we go above and beyond expectations to ensure the satisfaction of our clients.