The Right Contractor for Your Job

When it comes to home improvements, a good contractor may be able to help you get the best return on your dollar.

The role of a contractor is to oversee and manage construction projects from start to finish. If you opt to hire one, you should solicit bids from at least three contractors, but keep in mind that cost may not be the most important consideration. It’s essential to find a contractor with a proven work history and good communication skills.

One place to start your search for a reputable contractor is with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has a searchable database of area BBB-accredited businesses. Next, write a thorough description of your project and give it to prospective contractors when you contact them to solicit bids and schedule interviews.

“When interviewing, ask for references and permission to review the contractor’s previous work before making your selection,” says Megan Freitag, a sales executive in Brentwood, Tennessee, who recently went through the process. “When checking references, ask about the end result and if the contractor obtained the proper permits and met deadlines and budgets. You can also ask if the job site was kept tidy, or more open-ended questions, such as if there were any issues or incidents that emerged during the project. Ask references if they would hire the contractor again.”

Freitag and her contractor completed phase one of her family’s first remodeling project—gutting and redoing the den—in six weeks. Master bedroom modifications and a bathroom addition are still underway.

Freitag’s project is over budget, but she’s quick to explain that it’s due to her choices of upgrades—inlcuding a custom bar top, additional storage and special-order flooring—along the way. In some instances, the contractor was able to help keep costs down on the extras.

“Ultimately it’s your project,” says Freitag. “Educate yourself about the basics and hire a contractor with experience in similar work who seems to understand your vision and agrees to a payment and production schedule before starting. Paying in increments upon completion of key tasks provides continued incentive for the contractor to adhere to the timeline, and protects you against paying for incomplete work.”

Ready to make your vision for your home a reality? For information about home improvement financing options available through First Tennessee Bank, visit a convenient financial center or the Home Equity section.