Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

How To Properly Vet a Remodeling Contractor

February 22nd, 2018 | 5 min read

By Michael Flory

Construction worker wearing a high visibility vest

Are you gearing up for a remodeling project in Lansing but find yourself navigating the daunting task of choosing the right contractor? The process can be overwhelming and filled with uncertainties about credentials, reliability, and the overall success of your project. The last thing you want is to invest time and resources only to face unforeseen challenges. We understand the pain and stress associated with this decision-making process.

At Custom Built, we bring over 15 years of hands-on experience to the table. We understand the unique challenges homeowners face when selecting a contractor, and we've witnessed the transformative power of a well-executed remodeling project.

Having actively engaged in countless ventures, we empathize with the anxieties that often accompany this decision. We're not just a company; we're a team of professionals who genuinely care about turning your remodeling vision into a seamless reality.

In this comprehensive guide, we've distilled our decades of expertise into actionable insights:

  1. Check Licensing and Insurance
  2. Research Online
  3. Ask for References
  4. Visit Past Projects
  5. Verify Experience and Expertise
  6. Check for Legal Compliance
  7. Gauge Communication Skills
  8. Visit Their Office
  9. Request a Detailed Contract
  10. Clarify and Confirm Payment Terms
  11. Ask About Their Subcontractors and Workers
  12. Trust Your Instincts

You will learn the critical steps to properly vet a contractor, ensuring that your Lansing remodeling project unfolds smoothly. From checking licenses to assessing communication skills, we've got you covered. By the end of this article, you'll have the knowledge to make an informed decision, confident that your chosen remodeling contractor aligns with your vision and expectations.

1. Check Licensing and Insurance

Hiring a licensed and insured contractor is foundational to the success of your remodeling project. This ensures not only their legitimacy but also financial protection for both parties. Let's delve into the specifics of verifying these crucial credentials.

  • Verify that the contractor's license is specific to the work needed.
  • Inquire about the type and coverage limits of their insurance policies.
  • Confirm licensing board records for any recent disciplinary actions or complaints.

2. Research Online for Reliable Reviews

The internet is a treasure trove of information, and researching a contractor online provides valuable insights into their reputation and past performance. Let's explore effective ways to navigate online reviews and testimonials.

  • Look beyond star ratings and read detailed reviews.
  • Analyze recurring themes in reviews to identify common strengths or weaknesses.
  • Consider the timeframe of reviews; recent feedback may be more reflective of the contractor's current performance.

3. Ask for References From Prior Clients

The experiences of others who have worked with the contractor can be a powerful predictor of your own project's outcome. In this section, we'll discuss how to properly ask prior clients about your prospective remodeling contractor:

  • Inquire about the contractor's problem-solving skills.
  • Ask references about any unexpected challenges and how they were resolved.
  • Seek feedback on the contractor's ability to stay within budget and adhere to timelines.

4. Visit or View Past Projects Online

Seeing is believing, especially when it comes to remodeling projects. Visiting past projects provides tangible evidence of a contractor's workmanship and attention to detail. Let's explore how to make the most of these site visits.

  • Pay attention to the durability of materials used.
  • Evaluate the design aesthetics and attention to detail in completed projects.
  • Inquire about the post-completion service and support provided by the contractor.

If you're unable to physically visit past projects, you can always view your prospective remodeler's online galleries. These are incredible resources that will showcase their workmanship for various types of remodels.

5. Verify Experience and Expertise

A contractor's experience and expertise directly influence their ability to handle the complexities of your project. In this section, we'll discuss key talking points to assess their qualifications and industry knowledge.

  • Inquire about any specialized skills or certifications.
  • Ask about their familiarity with the latest industry trends and technologies.
  • Discuss their approach to overcoming common challenges in remodeling projects.

6. Check for Legal Compliance

Navigating local regulations and building codes is a critical aspect of any remodeling project. Let's explore how to ensure that your chosen contractor is well-versed in and compliant with these legal requirements.

  • Verify that their projects have consistently passed local inspections.
  • Ask the contractor about their experience navigating local regulations.
  • Inquire about any recent changes in building codes or permitting requirements.

7. Gauge Communication Skills

Effective communication is the bedrock of a successful remodeling project. In this section, we'll discuss how to evaluate a contractor's communication style and set expectations for a transparent and collaborative working relationship.

  • Discuss communication preferences.
  • Inquire about their communication tools and methods.
  • Clarify how they handle unforeseen issues and communicate changes during a project.

8. Visit Their Office

A contractor's office is a reflection of their professionalism and organizational capabilities. In this section, we'll explore what to observe during your visit.

  • Observe the workplace culture and professionalism of the office staff.
  • Inquire about the contractor's project management systems and tools.
  • Discuss how they handle client communication and project documentation.

9. Request a Detailed Contract

The contract is the blueprint of your project, outlining all crucial details. Let's delve into what specific elements your contract should contain.

  • Clearly define the process for handling changes.
  • Discuss how unforeseen issues will be addressed and communicated.
  • Specify the procedure for addressing delays and potential cost adjustments.

10. Clarify and Confirm Payment Terms

The financial aspects of your project are vital, and understanding the payment terms is crucial for a smooth collaboration. In this section, we'll discuss how to establish a fair and transparent payment schedule.

  • Discuss payment methods.
  • Inquire about any available financing options or discounts for early payments.
  • Explore options for milestone-based payments tied to specific project phases.

11. Ask About Their Subcontractors and Workers

Understanding the team that will work on your project is as important as choosing the contractor. Let's explore how to verify the contractor's approach to hiring and managing subcontractors and ensuring a skilled and qualified workforce.

  • Discuss the contractor's approach to hiring and managing subcontractors.
  • Ask about their policy for background checks and drug testing for workers.
  • Inquire about the training programs for their workers to ensure a skilled and qualified team.

12. Trust Your Instincts

Trusting your instincts is the final step in the vetting process. Here are a few ways to "trust your gut" during the remodeling process:

  • Address concerns with the contractor.
  • Seek clarification on any aspect that raises doubts during the vetting process.
  • Consider seeking multiple opinions from reputable sources before finalizing your decision.

As you reflect on the journey of selecting the right contractor for your Lansing remodeling project, remember the initial concerns and uncertainties that brought you here. The decision to invest in your home is a significant one, and choosing the right partner is crucial for a successful outcome.

If you began this process feeling unsure about the path ahead, we hope the insights shared have provided clarity and direction. Your peace of mind and the success of your project are at the forefront of our considerations.

By delving into the comprehensive guide we've presented, you've gained a roadmap to navigate the intricate process of vetting a remodeling contractor. From checking licenses to understanding payment terms, you are now equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions. The resolution lies in your hands – confident, informed, and ready to embark on your remodeling journey.

Tapping into your newfound understanding of the vetting process, you can proceed with the assurance that your chosen contractor aligns not only with your project's needs but also with your vision for a transformed living space.

With over 15 years of experience, our team understands the nuances of the remodeling process, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.

As a company dedicated to turning visions into reality, we invite you to reintroduce yourself to the possibilities that lie ahead. Your dream home is within reach, and we're here to help you achieve it.

Ready to turn your remodeling dreams into reality? Contact our team of design-build professionals today. Take the next step with confidence, knowing that you've acquired the knowledge to make a well-informed decision. Your dream space awaits, and we're here to bring it to life.

luxury home remodeling services design build firm custom built lansing michigan

Michael Flory

Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.