Any time you hire a contractor to work on your home, you should be sure that you’re making an informed decision and that you feel confident that he or she is going to do the job right the first time around. Flooring is no exception to that rule, and you’ll find that doing your homework really does pay off in the end. Here are some tips for selecting and working with a qualified flooring contractor:
Word of Mouth is Your Most Valuable Resource
If you have friends and family in your local area, ask them if they can offer any recommendations for flooring contractors with whom they have worked before. Be sure to ask detailed questions about the overall quality of the contractor’s work, the level of communication that occurred throughout the project, and so forth. Also, you can always ask if the contractor gives a “neighborhood discount” or “referral discount”, as oftentimes contractors appreciate doing work in the same neighborhoods and the referrals it brings.
If you don’t have any trusted friends or family in your immediate area, try asking coworkers or looking for reputable online reviews. Houzz can be a great tool for finding a contractor. Not only does it offer design inspiration and shopping opportunities, but you can also find valuable insight about professionals who work in any given field.
Ask the Right Questions and Set Clear Expectations from the Beginning
Before you even begin to shop around for a flooring contractor, take the time to lay out your specific requirements and the details of your project. If you’re planning to install bamboo flooring, be sure that he or she has experience installing that particular material. Also make sure they give you a full list of installation materials you’ll need, such as moldings & trim, stair pieces, and accessories like trowels, underlayment and any other items you’ll need to complete the job. Most wood floors require an acclimation period prior to installation, so you’ll want to ensure that the contractor’s quote includes bringing the boxes inside your home and cutting them open to let the flooring acclimate first.
You may also want to ask some of the often overlooked questions, such as how many other projects he will be working on, whether or not he works with subcontractors, what their normal business hours are, and so on. The most important thing is that you ask the questions that are necessary in order for you to make the best possible decision for your individual project.
Use all of this information to establish open communication with your prospective contractor, and be sure that he or she is well aware of your goals for your home renovation project.
Price is Not Always the Best Performance Metric
The most influential factor in the success of your relationship with a contractor is communication. It depends on your ability to convey clear expectations and your contractor’s ability to listen to what you need. So, be sure that you are paying more attention to communication than you are to the price tag.
Historically, it was easy to assume that lowball offers meant that a contractor would do a substandard job, but low estimates can be fantastic as long as you have set clear expectations from the beginning, and you have them on paper. Likewise, you can’t assume that the contractor with the highest bid is going to do the very best job. The work environment for contractors has become highly competitive, and every contractor that you meet is going to want to win your business. So, make price the last thing that you consider.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to choosing a flooring contractor. It’s a great start, though. Just remember that there are no silly questions, when it comes to protecting your biggest investment: your home. Take your time when shopping around for a flooring contractor, and make sure that you feel confident in his or her ability to deliver a high-quality end result that you will love for years to come.