Starting the home remodeling process can feel a little overwhelming. Far too often we hear stories about unprofessional contractors ripping homeowners off or leaving them with a final product that was nothing like they expected.
So we get it: it can be hard to confidently start a home remodeling project with a contractor who you don’t know. The decision isn’t one that should be taken lightly! You need a group of professionals who can listen to and execute your design dreams, not who leave you feeling stressed and underwhelmed.
To help you make smart decisions on your search for an Orlando contractor, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist with tips on what you should look for and the right questions to ask. After this, you’ll know how to start looking for a contractor and ways to feel comfortable throughout the process.
Save A Ton Of Money By Asking This Question First
First up: do you even need to hire a general contractor in Orlando for your job? For most projects, you don’t. Unless you’re building a home from scratch, doing a roofing project, or knocking down walls, you don’t need to hire a general contractor for your remodeling project.
Instead, search for a contractor who can meet your home remodeling needs. A reputable kitchen, bath—or whichever specialist you may need— remodeler can directly do the project and save you the money it would cost to hire a middleman general contractor.
Most home remodelers, like us here at Magnet Home Remodeling, partner with a general contractor when any additional certifications are required. We do that work for you, so you can skip that step and save time and money.
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If No Certifications Are Required, How Do I Know A Remodeler Is The Right Choice For Me?
General contractors in Orlando have a set of certifications or licenses required to do some of the building projects that they do. So when hiring a remodeler who isn’t required to have these certifications in the state of Florida, how do you know you can trust their work? Look for these signs:
- many years of work experience
- view their past work via a gallery, portfolio, etc
- read their reviews, which you can find online or on their website
- look to see if they’ve ever not finished a job
A simple online search for “Orlando Contractor” or “Orlando Home Remodeling” can get you started, but here are a few more tips for your search:
Check Online Reviews
Whether you’re in the initial stages of searching for a contractor or already have one in mind, taking some time to check out online reviews is a great way to learn more about their previous work. While you can’t always rely on one review to inform you entirely, a series of really bad reviews about a contractor is a major red flag.
Ask For Orlando Contractor Recommendations
Did your neighbors recently have a home remodeling experience that they can’t stop raving about? You can ask them which Orlando contractor they used and what they liked about them- there’s nothing better than some direct proof of a job well done.
Check Qualifications and Insurance
This step is a critical part of your search! It’s so important that you make sure an Orlando contractor has the proper insurance and is qualified to do your renovation.
You can ask them to show you a certificate of insurance, which should outline their coverage for you. Working with a contractor who does not have an insurance plan (or has a policy that’s no longer in effect) opens you up to liability.
Verifying that they have a state-issued license lets you know that they are qualified professionals, capable of making renovations to your home. Each state may have different rules and regulations, so if you’re hiring an Orlando contractor make sure you look for Florida-specific licenses.
Review Past Work or Portfolio
Many contractors have put together a portfolio of their previous work, and asking to see this can be really helpful on your search. Not only will you get proof that they’ve completed successful jobs, you’ll see specific examples of designs they accomplished. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire your project!
Portfolios also often include testimonials from past clients. Check the credibility of this information and you’ll feel more confident about moving forward with a contractor.
Hiring A Contractor: The Must-Have Checklist
Decide on whether you need to hire a general contractor or a remodeler. And once you’ve picked out someone to work with, there are still a few things to ask.
You just want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and feels comfortable and protected going forward. Plus, early conversations helps everyone out by minimizing communication failures and keeping everyone aligned.
1. Proper Permits and Approvals from Local Building Department
Checking the contractor’s permits is often overlooked by homeowners, but is really important. Depending on the type of projects, there may be permits and approvals needed.
For most home remodeling projects, you won’t need permits. Talk to your kitchen or bath remodeler for a better understanding of what you need. In most renovation cases you won’t need permits and can get the project underway faster and cheaper.
Ask your contractor to show you that they’ve obtained the proper permits and scheduled inspections within the designated time frame if they’re needed.
2. Proof of License
In Florida, general contractors are typically required to be licensed to work in the state. So when you’re hiring an Orlando contractor, it’s important to look into this.
However, most home remodeling projects (unless a roof is being installed or a wall is being knocked down) won’t require special licenses. Talk to your home remodeler about your project before extending your search by looking for a licensed general contractor.
Many times, home remodeling specialists partner with an observation contractor if they do need to do projects that require a license. So that part will be handled for you!
You can check to see if someone in Florida has a license at the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations with the search feature.
3. Copies of Liability Insurance
Don’t forget to check that your contractor is properly insured. Without insurance, you might be financially liable for anything that happens to the contractor on your property. It’s okay to ask for a certificate of insurance from your contractor. And when they show it to you, you can call the insurance company to make sure that the policy is current. You can also ask them about the policy’s limits.
A contractor should have both workers’ compensation and liability insurance for their specialization.
4. Review the Full Quote
Thoroughly review the contractor’s full quote, including what additional costs would be required if any problems should arise. Cross-reference this with other contractors’ quotes to find the best cost and value for you.
Ask yourself, “have I told the contractor my realistic budget and my expectations? Do they have everything to sufficiently execute my house remodel?”
It’s up to you to communicate how much you are able to spend on this project with your contractor. Discuss this stuff upfront to save you frustration and money in the long run.
5. Project Process, Goals and Timeline
Have you and the contractor done a pre-model assessment of the existing home conditions? Has the contractor given you a plan of action and set out project goals and timelines?
Ask these questions and make sure you have a clear understanding of the answers. If you feel any confusion or vagueness about the project, it’s better to address it earlier on than after things have already started.
You want to know what to reasonably expect for the process of the remodel, such as how many workers will be involved and an estimate for how long the whole project should take.
It’s also important to consider there may be delays or a change of plans as the project goes on. This happens, but make it clear to the contractor that you want to be informed of any major or minor setbacks as they come up.
All of the terms and conditions of the project should be made clear in a contract that is signed by both parties.
6. Check In With Your Contractor
Take some time while the project is underway to check in with the contractor if they haven’t updated you in awhile. Of course you hired a contractor so you could be hands off on the remodeling, but it’s still a good idea to ask to see progress and be updated on what’s happening in the process.
If there are any setbacks or price adjustments, you’re going to want to know about them.
7. Final Inspection
If the work requires a permit, then it probably requires a final inspection once it’s completed, too. Make sure your contractor has scheduled the final inspection. It’s a good idea to make the final payment to your contractor after this inspection is complete.
The last thing you want is to find out that your project isn’t quite up to code, and have a contractor who’s deemed the project completed and accepted their final payment.
Need an Orlando Contractor? Get In Touch With Us
The home remodeling process can feel a little overwhelming at first. Hopefully, this checklist for hiring a contractor or a home remodeler can help take some of the worry away!
From the very start to a finished product that you love, our goal at Magnet Remodeling is to make the home remodeling process as easy for you as possible. We can take care of most of your home remodeling needs without you needing to go through the process of finding a general contractor in Orlando.
Get your Orlando home remodeling project started by getting in touch with our team at Magnet Remodeling today!