Hiring a home improvement company is quite a task. Whether it is your personal home or a rental property, these are individuals which will be walking around in your investment for some time. You need to trust that they will handle your project with as much care and respect as you would.
So, how do you choose?
For property owners in Michigan, here are a few little helpful hints on how to select the right home improvement company for you.
Start with Referrals
The internet is a useful tool, but nothing truly beats word of mouth when it comes to selecting a home improvement company. While reviews on the internet can occasionally be helpful, you never really know who is behind them—is it a friend or family member saying those wonderful things or are those horrible remarks a disgruntled customer who was actually in the wrong? Hearing about a company from someone you know and trust, and who has a personal experience with the company, will give you more accurate information than scanning the internet. Other places to get references include reliable contractors, your city inspector, or local hardware/lumber supply stores.
Conduct Phone or Face to Face Interviews
After you’ve come up with a list of a few referrals, conduct a phone interview. Getting a good feel for a company before you hire them is always a plus and by asking to set up an interview, you’ll get a good concept of how they treat their customers. Are they timely in responding to your request? Are they polite or do they seem inconvenienced?
A few questions to ask during these interviews include things like, do they take on projects of your size, can they give a list of previous clients, and how many projects do they run simultaneously?
After you’ve gone through the list, pick out three or four that feel like they might be a good fit for you and your project. Then, set up a face to face interview.
Visit the Office
Visiting the office for a face to face interview can go a long way when trying to decide what contractor to hire for the job. Seeing the day to day operations of the business, whether the office appears organized and tidy, meeting the staff, and seeing the interactions amongst themselves as well as with clients will give you a better idea of how the entire experience will go if you opt to hire them.
Don’t let personality be the end all to your research. Regardless of how well you felt you communicated or how professional they seemed, appearances can be deceiving. Check with your local consumer protection agency (you can find Michigan’s here: https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer/michigan) or the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any disputes from either former or present clients, subcontractors, or suppliers.
Start Getting Bids
When you’ve narrowed your list down to three or four different companies, start taking bids. A good contractor will request detailed information from you before offering any bids, including blueprints and a sense of exactly what you’re looking to get out of the project. Ask for each bid to be broken down into cost of materials, labor, and other such expenses so that you can get a good understanding of what each company is actually charging for. Bids are a great way to get a feel for a company’s health. A low-ball number is often the sign of a company desperate for work and willing to cut corners.
Request a Detailed Contract
Don’t agree to any work until you’ve seen a detailed contract. Contracts should include more than just names and dates, it should be a full outline of the project and the agreement you’ve come to. Within the contract you should see a full outline of the payment structure—including percentages due, dates, and any contingencies like project completion delays and/or punch lists—proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurances, detailed list of project materials, and lien releases from subcontractors and suppliers.
Hiring a home improvement company is a very personal choice. While you want to know you’re making a decision based on facts, you should also trust your instincts. If your gut tells you that your communication styles don’t match up, it doesn’t matter how great their online ratings are. Find a company that meets your needs, rates well, and shows good work and you’re on the right step to a truly successful home improvement experience.