How to Find Reputable Contractors in Your Area
As a real estate investor, part of your success will depend on surrounding yourself with reliable professionals who can help you achieve your goals. Your team may consist of a banker, broker, property manager, real estate agent, attorney, accountant, appraiser, and inspector. Another key member of your team is a licensed, reliable contractor who can meet deadlines and complete your project under budget.
Contractors can range from general building contractors to subcontractors, home improvement professionals, and specialists in various related fields. How do you find the right contractor that you can trust? Where do you start your search? What criteria do you look for?
Require Licensing and Certification
Certification or licensing laws are left up to each state, district, or city, depending on where you live. For instance, in Florida, there are no state laws that govern licensing for contractors. Instead, it is left up to each county or city to impose licensing regulations. In Texas, specialty contractors require a state license, while general contractors must receive their license through the county or city in which they live.
What’s most important is that you hire a contractor that is licensed. They also need to have certification and experience in specified areas. For example, a roofing contractor needs to have a roofing license and/or certification. Without proper licensing, a contractor is not legally allowed to operate their business or work on your house. So, the first qualification you should look for in a contractor is proof of licensure and certification.
Look for Reputation and References
With all the online resources available today, finding the right contractor for your real estate investment business is easier than ever. You may want to begin by performing a simple Google search in your city. From there, you can visit multiple contractor websites to find out more about each company and the services they provide. Some contractors post galleries or online portfolios so that you can view their past projects.
Next, look for customer reviews. Where can you find authentic, reliable customer reviews online?
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Another way to find a reliable contractor is to ask around. Talk to homeowners, realtors, property managers, or anyone in the home improvement industry. Make sure you spend time researching and comparing companies. The right contractor will become one of the most important members of your team.
Get at Least 5 Estimates
On the surface, all contractors look the same. Where you start noticing the difference is in the paperwork, beginning with the estimate. What distinguishes the reputable contractor from their peers is how detailed they are in their estimate. When it comes to estimates, you should look for three main things.
The level of detail in a contractor’s bid is an indication of how accurate the estimate is. Look for details such as
- Breakdown of materials and labor
- Completion date
- Exact material quantities
- Subcontractor fees
The estimate should reflect that the bid for the project is organized, well-planned, and thought out. The contractor should also be prepared to answer any questions that are not answered in the estimate.
As a real estate investor on a budget, the last thing you want to hear is “ballpark.” A seasoned contractor strives to get the quote down to the penny with little room for error. Many contractors today use software solutions to create accurate and fast estimates. Those that do not are often perceived as living in the dark ages, using outdated methods to configure and submit their bids.
A confident and honest contractor has nothing to hide. There is no fine lines or hidden fees. What you see is what you get. They are happy to answer challenging questions and provide any information that you request. A transparent bid allows you to see what you are spending and where your investment is going before their first payment.
Ask About Warranties
Warranties generally offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials relating to various components of the home, such as
- Air conditioning (HVAC)
- Electrical systems
Warranties also typically define how repairs will be made. The duration of coverage varies depending on the component of the house. Coverage is provided for workmanship and materials on most components during the first year. For example, most warranties on new construction cover siding and stucco, doors and trim, and drywall and paint during the first year.
Coverage for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems is generally two years. Some builders provide coverage for up to 10 years for major structural defects, sometimes defined as problems that make a home unsafe and put the owner in danger.
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