A reliable contractor who consistently does good quality work, within the allocated timeline and budget, is a priceless asset for anyone who owns real estate. It is particularly true for investors who constantly need home improvements and repairs done on their properties. Some of them may be necessary to improve the value of the building. Others are required to compensate for the wear and tear, reasonable or not, due to tenant occupancy.
However, finding a good contractor can seem akin to finding a needle in a hay bale. Every investor certainly has horror stories of individuals never finishing the job, going way over budget, or doing terrible quality work. All those issues could lead to a significant waste of time, money, and even potential long-term consequences like law suites. To avoid such an ordeal, here are some tips to keep in mind to find the best contractor to cover the improvements and repairs on your building.
- Get several bids
Always require bids from several renovators before reaching a decision. Three bids will give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of cost and timeline without being too overwhelming. Word of mouth is often the best way to identify who would be a potential asset for your business and who you should avoid at all cost. Ask friends, family members, and other real estate professionals for recommendations.
Besides bids, an interview, either on the phone or in person, is the best way to judge the quality of a contractor. Here are some of the questions you should ask your potential hire:
- How long have you been in the business?
- What are your qualifications?
- Do you have a license?
- What is your insurance policy? What about your employees?
- Do you supervise your job sites personally? How often do you check on your projects?
- Have you worked on projects similar to mine before? When?
- Do you have references I can contact?
- Do you belong to a trade association?
- Stay in touch
Communication is critical when it comes to hiring a contractor for repairs and home improvements. As an investor, you don’t necessarily have the time or the possibility to inspect each property personally on a regular basis. Therefore, you should be able to rely on the person you hire to supervise the work. They will also need to keep you informed on the progress of each project, and of any impediments and delays, you will need to relay to fellow investors. How fast they get back to you when sending a bid is often a good indicator of what to expect for the rest of the relationship.
- Do your homework
It is not enough to ask for references. You should also check with them. Don’t hesitate to drive-by the properties your contractor has previously worked on or visit the projects if you have the ascent of the homeowners. Besides, make sure that you are aware of the rules and regulations regarding contractors in the state where you will be operating. You will also need to ensure that the contract you will be signing covers any issues you may encounter during the project.
- Don’t make a complete payment until the work is
Never pay a contractor in full until the work you needed to be done is finished. You certainly don’t want them to leave before you are entirely satisfied with the project. Therefore, don’t release the last payment until the final walk-through and always demand a detailed itemized bill to avoid any bad surprises.