Picking the Right Contractor
Most people put more work into choosing a car or television than they do into picking the right contractor. While some get lucky using this approach and hire a contractor who does good, timely work, many more get burned in the process, hiring someone who cuts corners or disappears from the job.
This situation is bad enough when you’re hiring someone to remodel your bathroom — what happens when you hire the wrong guy for a house flipping project on a tight budget and time line?
Choosing the right contractor means the difference between having complete confidence and getting the project finished on track and a lot of sleepless nights and money thrown out the window. Before you hire your best friend’s uncle or the guy with the cheapest bid, follow these tips to pick a winner.
Finding an Investor-Friendly Contractor
One way to find investor-friendly contractors who will give you a good deal and know the value of having reliable work is asking for references. You’ll find most investors won’t tell you who their go-to contractors are, as they don’t want you to tie them up or pay them more. Still, sometimes investors get tied up with too many projects, and they’ll help out their contractors by referring them in the meantime.
You can also search for rehabs in progress. When you see construction in progress, stop and ask to speak to the boss. Ask if the house belongs to an investor. If the job site looks clean and orderly with everyone busy, it might be worth your time.
Checking Credentials and Getting Bids
Find out anything you can about prospective contractors before making your choice. Make sure they’re fully licensed, and ask for references. Do the follow-up and make sure the work they’ve done in the past is up to your standards. Be sure to ask how long they’ve been in the business, and what they specialize in. You’ll find many contractors specialize in just one or two areas. You’ll also want to know if they do the work themselves with a team or if they sub out all of the work.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few contractors, get bids on your project. You want to get at least three contractors to make a bid. Once you get various perspectives and prices, you’ll start to learn about the cost to fix up a home, and who is overcharging.
Don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest contractor, either. This is a common mistake, and it can be disastrous. That contractor who gave you the lowest bid may have several other projects on their plate without the ability to stay within your time line. They may also be low-balling their offer with the intention of cutting corners or bailing.
Red Flags to Watch For
Watch out for these signs of a bad or suspicious contractor:
- Wants a substantial up-front payment or payment completed before the project is finished
- Gives you a final price without seeing the job
- Tries to give you a deal on materials left over from a previous project
- They tell you they don’t have enough money to finish the project and need more (If you already paid, this usually means that money didn’t go to your job but somewhere else)
- Tries too hard to convince you of their qualifications