Tips for Hiring a Contractor

This post is sponsored by Travelers Insurance; all opinions are my own.

I did it. I hired a contractor. It was a very hard decision and an important decision. And why was it so important? Because I am spending more of my budget with the contractor than I did on the purchase of the home!

I am glad I had some help. I used the Hire a Contractor Checklist, which I found on the Travelers Insurance Home Central website. The Home Central site encompasses everything about home buying and selling, moving, renovating, maintaining and more. It includes tips for first-time homebuyers, suggestions on how to stage a house when you are ready to sell, guides, lists and other information on caring for a home. You may recall, on a previous blog post I shared how you can use Home Central to search for building permits filed on a home.

My husband and I purchased a fixer-upper home in Waco, Tx a few months ago that I am going to redo, furnish and offer as a short-term rental. The house needs extensive remodeling (foundation, electrical, plumbing, adding an addition, etc.) and it’s a big project. It’s also more than one hundred years old.

I interviewed three contractors on the phone and met with two of them in person. I put together a document I called a “Scope of Work,” which had all of my ideas, floor plans and over twenty photos of the look and style of construction that I wanted. (Both contractors mentioned that I was very organized and definitive. But that is not why I picked them!) Both submitted bids within the time frame specified.

When you hire a contractor, it is necessary to make sure the contractor fits the needs of your project. It is important that you have checked out their references, understand the quality of their work, that the scope is agreed upon and that the contractor is insured. If you are doing a home renovation project, Home Central has a checklist that compiles the top 10 tips to consider when selecting a contractor for your home.

My biggest problem is that I want to hire the contractor who is the nicest. (Can I just say this really drives my husband crazy!) You know, the person that I like the most because I know we will be talking every day for at least six months. I know it’s not the most important thing. So this time I followed all of the steps on the Home Central site and learned some things along the way. 

I followed their advice and took my time to make the decision, checked references and verified the insurance and licenses of the contractor I selected. In fact, I was able to check off all of the recommendations on the Travelers Insurance checklist.

I thought I would share the floor plan we are using as inspiration for the remodel. We have already made some changes but feel free to comment with your input! Now the fun begins. Demo day!

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  1. someone who just did a new home build, I too went with someone that ‘I liked’. We felt very comfortable with him and he was very personable. He turned out to be a complete jerk and we ended up totally hating him at the end of the job.(which btw, took a year to complete). Almost everything in our brand new home has had to be ‘reworked’ or fixed. We are so disappointed as this is our retirement home and we spent close to a million dollars on it. So…may I advise you to go with the guy you maybe didn’t ‘click’ with instead of the guy you really ‘like’….

    1. In the past I would pick the guy I liked and it backfired. This time I interviewed two really good guys. And I struck gold! I am so happy so far with my choice. He is amazing!

  2. After going through the process you went through following that awesome checklist, it comes down to who meets your criteria and then who you feel you’ll work best with in terms of communication style. As you say, you’ll be spending a lot of time together and on the phone for several months and compatibility is crucial! Congratulations on making your decision, I can’t wait to follow your progress!

    1. I agree with you. I can already tell after short a short period of time that I picked the right contractor. He is honest, trying to save me money and I should probably mention he worked on the show Fixer Upper for two seasons!

  3. Good luck! We say we are the original Chip and Joanne after doing this for over 25 years and redoing, living in during renovation on many, over 50 homes. It is not easy to find someone who really knows what they are doing. I hope you picked the right guy. We still are doing it, in the middle of a big one right now, but it has been a good ride for us in McKinney, Texas.

    1. Twenty five years! Oh my! That’s incredible. Our contractor worked on Fixer Upper for two year s and we are on the same page with everything.I am so happy!

  4. Steve and I recently did a complete gutting of our only bathroom and we went with our gut. We didn’t even bother to get any other bids mainly because our contractor came highly recommended by a dear friend whose home was still in reconstruction.

    After looking at your list, I would say that we just got lucky. Our contractor was fabulous and we loved all of his different workmen. The project took longer than we expected due to things like Demo Day taking 5 days and needing a jackhammer to get the 90 year old tile floor out and the plumber’s wife going into labor on his scheduled day – set that work back 3 days. The other hang ups were our fault – we were traveling and didn’t want to subject our dog sitter to all the noise and workmen.

    I look forward to watching the progress on your house.

  5. Sounds amazing!! Can’t wait to see the progress big and small. Thank you so much for taking all of us who follow you on this ride. xoxoxoxo from Texas!!

  6. We hired a contractor that built our pergola. It’s beautiful, however, when we hired him as a contractor for a remodel, it was out of his league. He only worked about 15 hours a week, kept asking for more money and left us in a huge mess.

    We researched him diligently, sometimes even that doesn’t work out. Huge costly mistake.

  7. Hiring a contractor is critical and a big deal but even if they are the very best it all goes to crap if the “blue prints” are off. Could not believe the mistakes on my blueprints or how this could ever happen but it did. If you get your prints, show them to EVERYONE who will look at them!

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