How to Find the Right Remodeling Contractor

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Updated January 5, 2022
A kitchen with a large island and hardwood floors
Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock

Research your remodeling contractor's qualifications, references, and payment timeline to set yourself up for a smooth project from start to finish

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The contractor you hire is among the most important decisions you'll make for your remodeling project because your contractor is responsible for the quality and execution of the entire project. Remodeling contractors must have a license and insurance to practice in most states. The best general contractors will also have plenty of references and testimonials that you can use to help verify their experience and quality of work. If you're planning a future remodeling project, use this handy hiring guide to ensure you hire the right contractor for the job.

How to Find a Remodeling Contractor

There are several ways to find a great remodeling contractor. Getting recommendations from people you know is a good start. If you have any friends or family who underwent a similar remodeling project that they're really happy with, ask them for their contractor's contact information. You can also create a post on your social networks asking for recommendations.

Internet search engines are another resource you can use, but a quick search of local remodeling contractors will likely yield thousands of results, so it can be tough to sift through them until you find the right match. As an alternative, Angi makes it easy to find top-rated general contractors. Simply enter your location, and you'll receive a list of contractors along with ratings from real people who have worked with them before. 

Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

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Before committing to a remodeling contractor, there are a few steps you should take to set yourself up for success. 

Plan Your Remodeling Project for Accurate Quotes

Creating a high-level plan for your project before contacting potential home remodeling contractors can help you get the most accurate quotes. For instance, if you're remodeling your kitchen, plan out all of the elements you want to update. Some small kitchen remodels only involve updated cabinets or countertops, while others might include new flooring, paint, sinks, and windows. 

Once you create your remodeling plan, it's a good idea to get quotes from at least three different pros so you can compare pricing, deliverables, and timelines and choose the quote and contractor that is best suited for your budget and project. When you request quotes, ask each pro to explain what goes into their pricing models so that you can fully understand the proposed charges. 

Check Your Remodeling Contractor's Qualifications and References

Make sure to check your contractor's references, reviews, and qualifications before signing on the dotted line. A good contractor should have plenty of references and testimonials from satisfied customers that they can share with you. Searching the contractor's name on search engines might also lead you to helpful reviews from former customers.

Additionally, you should request copies of the contractor's insurance and license. However, only some states require contractors to have a license, so make sure to research your state's requirements. At a minimum, all contractors should have general liability and worker's compensation insurance, both of which can help protect you from needing to pay for damages or injuries that could potentially happen during the remodeling project. 

Questions to Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

To further check out whether a contractor is the right person for your remodeling project, ask them the following questions:

  • How long have you been in business? 

  • How many projects like mine have you completed within the last two years?

  • What's your proposed timeline for the project? 

  • What actions will you take if you think a project is going to take longer to complete than initially proposed? 

  • How many projects do you work on at one time? 

  • What is the payment schedule for the project? 

  • Will you obtain the permits and inspections required for the project? 

  • What's the best way to get in touch with you during the project? 

  • Will I need to be home during the project?

  • What are the start and end times for each construction day? 

  • How will you clean up at the end of each workday? 

Once you hire a contractor, it's also a good idea to ask them for the names and contact information of each person who will be working on your project. 

Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Ready to start looking for contractors? Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth hiring process from start to finish. 

Interview Your Remodeling Contractor

Take some time to interview each contractor you're considering. This gives you the opportunity to ask them the questions outlined above while determining the contractor’s communication style. Plan to interview multiple remodeling contractors—ideally three or more—so you can compare your options to find the right fit for your project. 

Ask for a Background Check 

Background checks offer reassurance that you're picking the right person for the job. Any reputable contractor should have no problem participating in a routine background check; if your contractor candidate resists getting one, consider that a red flag. If applicable, this is also a good time to ask them for copies of their insurance and license.

Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Remodeling Contractor

Once you choose your contractor, it's time to discuss payments. Payment structures vary by project, but the Better Business Bureau recommends that you never pay for the whole project up-front. To protect yourself from potentially being left with an unfinished project and an empty wallet, arrange a payment structure that allows you to pay in phases, starting with a reasonable down payment that you and your contractor agree on. 

You can then arrange incremental payments to be issued once different project steps are complete. A standard payment structure includes a down payment of 10%, three payments of 25% throughout the project, and a final payoff of 15%. However, the best payment structure for you depends on your unique situation. Regardless of the payment plan agreed upon, wait to issue the final payment until after you've had the opportunity to closely inspect and approve the final result. 

Keep Records of Your Remodeling Project

While your remodeling project is underway, it's helpful to keep records of the project to ensure it's unfolding in the way you and the contractor initially discussed. These records should include physical copies of your contract, receipts, and any change orders throughout the project. You should also write down any verbal agreements you make with the contractor about the project. Finally, make sure to take photos of any areas that aren't completed to your satisfaction. 

Look for Red Flags and Prepare to Troubleshoot

During the project, keep an eye out for any red flags that could lead to issues like delayed timelines or shoddy work. If you notice that the project is taking longer than anticipated or that certain areas haven't been completed to your standards, talk to your contractor about potential resolutions. Make sure to follow up any in-person or phone communication about your issues with a certified letter outlining what you discussed. You should also request a return receipt from the contractor to prove they received the letter. 

If you cannot work through issues with your contractor, you can often receive help from your state attorney or local consumer protection office. Your local home builder's association and the Better Business Bureau might also provide assistance. 

After Your Remodeling Contractor Finishes Your Project

Once your remodeling project is complete, spend some time closely inspecting the work, ensuring it's completed to your satisfaction. Once you approve the project, make the final payment. If you're happy with the work, you can agree to be a reference for the contractor's future clients and leave them an online review.

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