On Friday, I gave some ideas for how to find a good contractor. Today I’m sharing how to get bids on your project from the list of potential contractors you selected.
Call and schedule appointments for the prospective contractors to meet you at the project site and ask them to “bid the job.” This just means that they will look around, talk about what you want, discuss what they see, measure areas, think about materials needed, propose a time frame, and discuss what kind of budget you are on.
It’s smart to iron out right now who will provide and deliver materials, and who will take care of fees associated with that if they will pick up the materials.
First thing to notice is whether they arrive on time. Of course weird things do happen sometimes, so if they are late, ask them why. If they had bad directions or had vehicle trouble, did they call and notify you of this? Personally and professionally to me, if they do not respect the timelines of an appointment for a job, can I trust them that when they tell me they will be finished with the job by a certain date that they truly will be? Arriving late to bid a job also shows me that they do not respect my time and schedule, and this will be two strikes against them off the start.
I give 30 minutes, and I will call them. If there is no answer, they have 10 more minutes. If they show up after I leave, they have wasted their time, but no more of mine will be wasted. I have not had to do that so far [Sue Ann and Lee have], but that is my policy. Ask them to also bring names and numbers of references (three or four is good) of people they have worked for that you can contact. You can also request any pictures they have of their before and after jobs. A truly competent and good contractor will be happy to show you their hard work, and for you to have references.
If they seem to shy away, or would rather just tell you about them, citing excuses as to why that customer would give a bad review, then I would suggest politely informing them that the project may not be a good fit for them. This is your money that you are spending, and if the job is not done well, you will foot the bill. Even if you take them to court over a bad job and win, you will still have to hire another contractor to come in and fix the mistakes which will cost even more than the original job did to begin with [Sue Ann knows this first hand]. Be wise with your money, and do not be afraid to turn down a contractor if you do not get good references or have positive feelings about them.