One huge mistake that homeowners make when looking for a contractor to do renovations is wanting to get it done “fast” and “cheap”. This can lead to great disappointment and frustration; and many times, it just ends up looking like, well crap.
So, let’s get our expectations on the right page before we start our search and start calling every contractor in the book. “You should expect that in this day and age, skilled contractors are in high demand: good contractors are very, very busy.”
What does this mean? When you start talking to contractors, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately answer their phones; don’t take it personally or assume they are not interested in talking to you. Keep in mind that constant interruptions slow down a jobsite work flow and for this reason alone, most contractors wait until they are away from the jobsite before they return your calls. Another good thing to remember is that most licensed tradespersons are in business as an owner-operator. “This means that they do all the work themselves and also do their own bookings. A slow response time is not necessarily a bad sign: it shows that they are in demand and it is a pretty good indicator that they are going to be well worth the wait.”
Good contractors are booked at least two to four months in advance. However, if you feel you can’t wait, remember this: Bad contractors are always available right away. Why? Mainly because they are not in demand, or worse, because they are more than willing to bump their current renovation in progress to get started on yours. Odds are that a situation like this will come back to haunt you when, halfway into your renovation, the same contractor will bump you in favor of his latest customer.
“So if a contractor says he will “try to fit you in as soon as he can” and to “please be patient,” take that as a sign that he isn’t going to take shortcuts on his current project just to get to yours that much sooner. High-quality work takes time. You also don’t want that same contractor to turn around and rush your job just to get to his next one.”
Now let’s chat about that other part: cheap. No one wants to spend more than he has to on a renovation, but as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
How much is the right amount? How will I know if I’m paying too much? This requires some work on your part, because it means getting as many quotes as possible. You will get a few extremely high quotes and a few extremely low quotes, and some that fall around the same price. Most likely those middle quotes will be the right price.
“The higher quotes sometimes reflect the skill level of the contractor or the price that the market demands for certain contractors who have a reputation for outstanding-quality work. Extremely low quotes often mean that the contractor doesn’t have the experience to properly quote the job, let alone know what it will take to do the job properly, or that he knows how to take shortcuts with your home in order to undercut the legitimate competitors.”
“So as you start planning your project, be prepared to wait for the right contractor and understand that there are ways to find the right price for the renovation you want.”