Homeowners who are good with their hands can tackle many minor home improvements on their own. More complicated projects, however, often require the services of professional contractors to ensure the renovations are done right, completed on time and within budget.
Choosing a home services provider requires careful consideration on the part of homeowners. The wrong contractor can cost homeowners time and money, so homeowners must exercise due diligence when vetting contractors before going forward with a home improvement project.
Types of contractors
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that the scope of a project may necessitate hiring various types of contractors. The more complex a project is, the more likely it is that homeowners will need to hire contractors who specialize in certain areas. Understanding the differences between contractors can help homeowners make informed decisions.
■ General contractor: General contractors manage home improvement projects. This includes hiring subcontractors and supervising their work. General contractors also secure building permits and schedule inspections.
■ Specialty contractors: Specialty contractors focus on specific areas of a project. For example, homeowners who are remodeling their kitchens may need new cabinets installed by a contractor who specializes in cabinets and cabinet installation. That contractor is a specialty contractor.
■ Designer or design/build contractor: The FTC notes that these contractors both design and build projects.
■ Architects: Architects design homes as well as any additions or major renovations to homes. Architects are often necessary when projects involve structural changes to existing homes.
Hiring a home services provider
Once homeowners determine which type of contractor they need, they can they begin researching local professionals.
■ Speak with neighbors, family and friends. Neighbors, family members and friends who have worked with contractors in the past are great resources. Seek recommendations from people you trust, even asking to see completed projects if possible.
■ Utilize the internet. Websites such as HomeAdvisor and Angie's List are free of charge and can be great resources when homeowners are looking for contractors. Each site includes reviews of contractors from past customers and contact information for local contractors.
■ Confirm qualifications. The FTC advises homeowners to confirm contractors' licensing and qualifications before hiring anyone. Some areas may not require licensing, but many do. Homeowners can contact their local building department or consumer protection agency to determine the licensing requirements for their area.