Choosing a Contractor in Florida: Four Ways to Get it Right

Starting a remodeling or renovation project is one of the most stressful things you can do with your house. (In fact, probably the only thing more nerve-wracking is selling your home and buying a new one.)

Budget concerns, scheduling matters, project issues — there’s so much to keep track of. It can be easy to lose your way when you’re in the middle of a build.

Unfortunately, it’s even easier to forget or skip some of the basics before construction gets underway — when you’re caught up in the excitement of choosing a contractor. Here are four things to keep in mind so your Florida dream home doesn’t become a nightmare.

1. It’s a social world — ask the people you know

There are a lot of fly-by-night contractors in Florida — get mixed up with the wrong one and you’re headed for disaster. The easiest way to find one who’s honest and hardworking? Ask around.

Let friends, relatives and neighbors know what kind of project you’re considering, and ask for referrals. Have they had done a similar project in the past year or two, and if so, by whom? Were they happy with the job? Would they recommend a particular contractor, or tell you to avoid a certain company at all costs? Find out how the contractor handled problems — because there are always problems — and don’t be afraid to push for the details. After all, this is your home you’re talking about.

2. Put those referrals to the test — examine credentials

Once you’ve got a few names, look closely at their credentials. Does the company’s website look reputable? Do they have a Florida phone number, or are they a national company who’ll simply subcontract your work to the lowest-cost local contractor? Is the phone number “real” or just a mobile phone? (Do some research on Florida area codes if you have to.)

Are the people who are going to do the work state-certified? Florida has many different licenses for different kinds of work — double-check to make sure the people you’re talking to have the necessary certifications.

3. Talk it up — interview your shortlist

Once you have a good list (try to limit your choices to no more than four so you don’t have to manage too much), ask for interviews. Any Florida contractor worth talking to will gladly agree to sit down with you to discuss your project.

Do they seem interested in your project? Have they done similar work in the past? Do they have questions for you, so they can find out more about what exactly you’re looking for?

If they’re willing to show you photos, take a close look for signs of quality work — don’t simply be swayed by a pretty picture.

4. Pick up the phone — call previous customers

If you have a good feeling about one or two contractors, and you feel reasonably reassured about the idea of working with them, go the extra mile and ask for references.

Could calling your contractor’s customers feel “weird?” Sure. Should you do it anyway? Absolutely.

Ask about whether the project was completed on-time and on-budget — and if not, ask what happened and why. Find out whether the people you call were happy with the job, and whether there was anything that bothered them about the whole experience.

Above all, don’t feel bad about doing any of this

It’s your home, and you have a right to demand good work. Your contractor is the one who’ll be working for you — not the other way around. Before you sign a contract, you don’t owe companies anything, despite the fact that some of them might make you feel otherwise.

We’d be more than happy to talk to you about your project — and we’d gladly do anything we mentioned in this article. If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.

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