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6 Tips: What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor in Delaware [Infographic]

Embarking on a home remodeling project is an exciting step, but finding the right general contractor is crucial. In Delaware, where home styles range from historic to contemporary, selecting the right professional is key to transforming your vision into reality. If you're asking yourself, "What to ask a contractor before hiring?" or "How to protect yourself when hiring a contractor?", you're already on the right track. In this guide, we'll explore what to look for in a contractor, ensuring you find the perfect match for your project at a cost that aligns with your budget.

Two hanging light fixtures above L-shaped kitchen island with sink in Delaware home remodel

What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor

With years of experience in the field, we've identified six essential factors to consider before hiring a contractor for your remodeling project. These points will help you navigate the process, ensuring a successful outcome. Based on decades of experience, we’ve determined that there are six key factors that you want to in determine before hiring anyone to work on your project.

1. Project Plan – Get the Details

Understanding the specifics of how your project will be executed is crucial. This involves inquiring about the phases of the project, timelines, and handling of any unforeseen changes.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who handles permits and government agencies?
  • If this is being financed via a home improvement loan, who provides the certificates and documentation to the lender for funding?
  • Who is your contact person and what is their availability like?
  • What hours and days would you need to expect contractors on the premises?
  • How much input can you have in the process?
  • If circumstances change and revisions are needed, how does this effect the scope and timeline?

Getting clear answers to these questions is vital for a smooth project flow. Once you have the project plans from various contractors, compare them based on the scope and efficiency in handling potential issues.

2. Time to Completion – Ask Questions

The expected timeline for project completion is often a gray area, but it is critical to define it upfront. To avoid extended timelines, which are a common issue with remodeling projects, it’s important to ask:

  • Can you provide me with a few former clients to contact? And then contact them to determine if the contractor stayed on schedule.
  • What’s the estimated time to completion?
  • What could hold up the project, and what steps are taken to get it back on track and completed on time?
  • Ask the contractor what percentage of their projects are completed within the timeframe given at the start of the project.

Knowing this information beforehand can save you from potential headaches later in the project. Evaluating a contractor's track record for completing projects within the given timeframe is a key aspect of this assessment.

Primary bedroom with sliding door to balcony in Delaware home remodel

3. Pricing – Not all Pricing is Equal

Compare the estimates from different contractors, ensuring they all cover the same scope of work. This step helps avoid unexpected costs, commonly known as "scope creep". Rank the contractors based on their pricing and how thoroughly they cover all aspects of the project.

  • To make sure that all estimates are covering the same scope of work, get them in writing. And any point that is not clear, ask for clarification and more details.
  • For an estimate that does not cover all of the work that is to be done, ask for that to be included and resubmitted.
  • Do not accept any general comments by a contractor that says something is covered but is not stated in the proposal. That’s a potential headache waiting to happen.
  • Check out some of the online resources for pricing estimates. Several websites can give rough guidelines for what various projects or parts of a renovation project will cost in your area. Do remember that it’s only a guideline. In some areas, the information will be right on track and for other regions of the country, there may be some deviation.

4. Contractor Team – Experience Matters

By reviewing the materials a company might provide with their proposal as well as checking out their website for more information, you can learn a bit about the company’s team and experience.

  • In addition, the referrals that you’ve asked for above will also be able to tell you about their experiences with the team they had on their project. Ask them for those that they enjoyed having worked on their home as well as those that they would prefer not to work with again.
  • Ask to meet the manager for your potential project. You want to find someone that is experienced, available and that you feel comfortable working with during this stressful time.
  • Finally, a little insider’s tip – try calling for your contact person or a name from the company and see if they are readily available or call back in a timely manner. If they aren’t responsive before you’ve hired them, that’s a sign to consider someone else.

Rate each contractor based on the experience and availability of their team. A team's responsiveness before you hire them can be a good indicator of their future performance.

Double vanity with gray shaker cabinets and stone countertops in Delaware bathroom remodel

5. Experience

Experience in handling a home renovation project is invaluable. While many contractors may claim expertise, it's important to verify their proficiency, especially for specific types of projects. To gauge a contractor's experience ask:

  • Who will be handling which parts of the project?
  • How much experience do each member of the contractor’s team have?
  • Can they provide examples of other projects that are similar to this one that they’ve done?

Make sure that each contractor provides you with examples of work from their portfolio of projects that they’ve done. Ask to see photos of before and after. Not only is that fun to do, but it’s also very helpful in seeing what kind of results a company has had with prior clients.

Visit a job site of a current project. That will give you ideas of what the site looks like and give you a close-up look at how they work.

Rate the companies from best to worst in terms of years of experience as well as experience with similar projects. The right experience can be the difference between a satisfactory project and an exceptional one.

Kitchen island with green base and two pendant light fixtures above in high-end kitchen remodel in Wilmington, Delaware

6. Client Reviews

Client reviews are a window into the real-world performance of a contractor. While contractors will naturally provide positive references, it's important to dig deeper.

  • Check out client reviews on Facebook, Houzz and other third-party sources to see what kind of ratings, reviews and results are posted.
  • See how many total reviews are actually posted for each contractor you are considering. That gives you a good idea of how much work they have done. And a contractor with more reviews ought to be weighted higher than one with less.
  • Extra tip – do a Google or other search engine search with the company name + review. Another search option is the company name + complaint. These might pull up some additional information on the company that you wouldn’t have found from other sources.

Use this information, along with the feedback from direct conversations with past clients, to rank contractors. This comprehensive approach ensures you get a well-rounded view of each contractor's reputation and reliability.

Using Your Research to Choose the Right Contractor

After meticulously evaluating each aspect – from project plans to client reviews – the final step is to use this research to choose the right contractor for your project. This decision is pivotal, especially in Delaware's diverse home styles and renovation needs. Here's how to make an informed choice.

Consider what's most important for your project. Is it the cost, the timeline, the type of renovation, or the contractor's experience? Depending on your priority, weight each category accordingly. For instance, if timing is crucial, give more importance to the 'Time to Completion' category.

Use a scoring system to rank the contractors based on your research and the answers provided during your meetings. Allocate points to each category – project plan, timeline, pricing, team experience, contractor experience, and client reviews.

Finally, trust your instincts. Who do you feel most comfortable with? Who seems most understanding of your vision? Choosing a contractor is not just about the numbers; it's also about who you trust to bring your dream project to life.

Walk-in closet with built-in clothing storage in Delaware home addition

Your Path to a Successful Remodeling Project with Bromwell Construction

After diving deep into the essentials of choosing the right contractor, it's clear that the decision involves much more than just a price comparison. It's about finding a partner who understands your vision, respects your budget, and has the expertise to bring your dream to life.

At Bromwell Construction, we believe we meet and exceed these criteria. Our commitment to quality, transparency, and customer satisfaction sets us apart in Delaware and Pennsylvania's home remodeling landscape. We encourage you to apply the same rigorous standards we've discussed to us. Evaluate our detailed project plans, our track record of completing projects on time, our competitive and transparent pricing, and our experienced team. Check our client reviews and see how we stack up.

Ready to embark on your remodeling journey? Let us be your trusted partner. Contact us for a consultation and see how Bromwell Construction can turn your home remodeling dreams into reality.


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