Hiring a Contractor for Your Home Project
Are you among the hordes of people who have worked to improve their homes during this last year’s quarantine?
Beginning last spring, people responded to the pandemic and resulting quarantine with a back-to-the-basics mentality. In fact, in addition to toilet paper, items including canning lids, vegetable seeds and yeast were difficult to buy. In addition to gardening, cooking and baking, with nowhere else to go but home, by the millions, people looked for things they could do at home, including improving it.
There’s something about staring at the same walls inside your house as you work from home, to make you realize, it’s time for a new paint job! (It hasn’t hurt that colleagues are now getting a glimpse into each other’s homes during video meetings.) In fact, painting became such a popular activity that for a long time, paint was also a hard commodity to find. Perhaps we all figured as long as we must be at home more, we might as well make it more attractive and comfortable.
The do-it-yourself and home-improvement trend during the pandemic
has been so widespread that prices of construction materials – especially lumber – has soared as supply has struggled to meet demand.
Do you still have home-improvement projects you want to tackle soon? Here is a Q and A to answer some of your questions on what your next step is!
Q. Is now a good time to start a new project or hire a contractor?
A. In general early spring is a great time to contact a contractor about a home-improvement project. That’s when contractors often begin to plan for their busiest building season. So, the sooner you contact them, the more likely you will be included in their schedule.
Secondly, while prices for some materials are going up now, it is possible that they will continue to rise for a while. So, you might want to tackle your projects sooner than later.
Thirdly, depending on the nature of the job now makes good sense for many people because most have a little more time and can more easily be available to let contractors in and meet on their schedules.
Lastly, your health is likely not an issue because quality-conscious contractors and repairmen have incorporated safe COVID-19 protocols, making sure they are masked, sanitizing and keeping socially distanced. . Nobody wants COVID!
Q. What is a good first step before hiring a contractor?
A. Unless you have a reliable contractor in mind, we highly recommend getting bids from two to three contractors. However, before you do that, do your best to write a clear “scope of work.” This not only helps you formulate just exactly what you want done, but also serves as a document that you can give each of the contractors who are bidding the job. That way, you can have an “apples-to-apples” comparison.
Q. How formal or detailed should a scope of work be?
A. Even simple projects, whether prepping and installing a new floor or installing a new bathtub, have logical steps and responsibilities that should be included in each bidder’s “proposal” or estimate because you gave them the same scope of work.
Not only does your scope of work include the materials to be used, it should also include time constraints and conditions.
Let’s use a simple scope of work for installing flooring as an example. “Bid to include: All taxes, fees and required permits; Demolition and proper disposal of existing flooring and all related debris; Removal, disposal and replacement of damaged or unsound subfloor, when exposed as needed to warrant floor installation, will be completed as a time and materials change order; The purchase and transportation of Abby Carpet #010122 flooring chosen by owner and all required labor and materials to install flooring to manufacturer’s specifications; a clean, swept or vacuumed jobsite.”
“Owner to: remove all furniture and breakables prior to floor installation; Touch-up paint wall surfaces scuffed due to installation by owner; Reset furniture by owner.”
This is a simple example is a clearly written understanding of who does what.
For more complex jobs, such as adding a room or fixing a foundation, you should develop a more detailed, written scope of work. It should outline exactly what you want done, what materials and name brands you want used, quality, colors/sheens and texture choices, etc. should all be spelled out clearly. You may need help, and designers and architects may be your best support, depending on the project and your skills to flesh out the project in written detail, blueprints, etc.