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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

How to Find the Best Contractors for Your Home Improvement Projects

It's time to do some home improvement & you;re looking to hire a contractor. The only trouble is figuring out who to hire. Hiring a contractor isn't like choosing between two brands of potato chips in the grocery store. Quality of materials, workmanship, dedication, to the satisfaction of their clientele, pricing, etc., is going to range all over the board. Make sure you've chosen the professional for your needs with these different variables in mind. 

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You’ve heard the horror stories about people’s bad experiences working with contractors. The contractor took far longer than they said they would to complete the project, or they disappeared for periods of time with zero indication of when they would be back to finish.

Be it a lack of communication or an inability on the contractor’s part to deliver on what they’ve promised, this sort of behavior leads to a bad relationship.

Exactly what should you look for when hiring a contractor?

 

Who do you want to work with?

The relationship between client and contractor is important. We’re not saying you need to be golf buddies, we’re just saying that it takes a lot of trust to have someone come work on your home or property. Be sure you are choosing the right person.


** Tip **

You can learn a lot about a company by looking at their online reviews. However, don’t just look at how many stars they have, actually take the time to read what people have said about their own experience working with the company. Don't be afraid to ask for references. 

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Whether you’re looking for the best contractors in Salt Lake City, Park City, Utah or beyond, you want to find the professional who treats your home with care and respect. A good contractor is looking to make your experience with them on your property as smooth and painless as possible.

They don’t want their presence to feel like a disruption. 

** Don't be Afraid to Ask for References **

Go take a look at a company’s website. Here you can learn a lot about a company. Looking at their galleries can be a great way to see the quality of their work.

But remember, learn about who you want to work with. A gallery isn’t always enough to really learn about a company. Explore their website further. Be sure their content reflects their abilities. 

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Get to know everything about them. After all, if you are seriously thinking about hiring a company to do work on your home, your place of retreat and refuge, it can only be to your benefit to do your research first.

However, keep in mind that company websites are a lot like online dating. The perception the company gives may be different from reality. This is why it’s important to also read the online reviews: you’ll get a more accurate impression of the company’s reputation.

Who Are You Hiring?

Like I said, you don’t need to be golf buddies. But it’s worth knowing who you are going to be working with.

Again, this is where preliminary online research can be a great benefit. If you can’t learn a lot about a company online, that in and of itself can tell you something about their reputation.

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Does their lack of online presence mean they don’t want unhappy clients to find them? Does it simply mean they are a new company still working to become established? If so,  you could risk being their next experiment. (Yikes!!)

Consider your first impressions of the person you meet with about your project. A professional will look the part. Do they seem knowledgeable or unsure of what they are doing?

The way a person presents them self shouldn’t be the bottom line determining factor for hiring them. That being said, when a person does present themselves professionally, it tends to follow that they will also be professional when it comes to your project.

 

What Does a Company’s Schedule Tell You?

It’s typical that a commitment of some kind will be required to get on the schedule. But there are two important questions you need to ask: how far out are they on their schedule and how long your project will take to be completed from start to finish.

  1. If you’re meeting with a contractor in late August and they tell you they won’t be able to start your project until late February, don’t dismay. This can be a good thing. It means they have a line of clients ahead of you. If they say they can start as early as tomorrow, it can only mean one of two things: they are absolutely out of work (unlikely), or that they are making too many commitments and running multiple projects all at once. Getting in line means your project will have the contractor’s undivided attention.
  2. If they say your project will take 2-3 days or 2-3 months from start to finish (depending on the scope and scale of the project), this is also a good thing. It means they are being transparent about their timeline. You won’t have to worry about them showing up for a day or two before jumping back on another project they have going on somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to ask if they will have a dedicated crew for your project.

You need to know an approximate start date and end date. Don’t expect a contractor to tell you they are exactly 39 days out from starting your project: that’s ludicrous. But they should be able to tell you that they are about 5-6 weeks out on their schedule.Your home-your-project

Knowing approx. when a contractor will begin your project is important, but it’s also important to know how long the project will take. Don’t expect them to tell you it will take exactly 2 and 1/2 days. But do expect them to tell you it will take between 2-3 days.

 

Why are Timelines Important?

The number one frustration I’ve had clients share with me about other contractors they’ve worked with is crews disappearing before the project is complete.

No, I don’t mean they take the money and run. The contractor would show up for one week and then disappear for a week before reappearing to continue the project. Sometimes this would happen multiple times, on/off every couple days.

Remember what I said about a good contractor wanting the project to disrupt your life as little as possible? This isn’t the way to do it.

So, how exactly do you keep this from happening? A good contractor will have a pipeline of projects. When people get on their schedule, it’s like getting in line. When it's your turn, the contractor gives your project their attention until it is complete.

 

What Should You Expect From the Crew?

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Crews should knock on the door to let you know they have arrived and are going to get started. Nothing is more alarming then looking out the back window in the morning to see strangers walking around in your backyard.

Likewise, crews should let you know when they are leaving and that they are finished for the day. In addition, they should let you know when they will be back to continue working on the project.

 

 

Remember what we said about contractors whose crews show up for a few day then leave for a couple days then come back, etc. If for some reason the crew won’t be back the following day, they need to let you know that, as well as when they will return.

When you are working with a good contractor, their crews clean up after themselves every day. I know it sounds like this sort of thing should be expected, and it should. But it’s still amazing how often something this basic won’t happen.

 

What Happens After the Check Clears?

The big question: if there is ever an issue will it be taken care of?

The experience you have working with a contractor doesn’t end after the check clears. What is their reputation for coming back to take care of their clients after the check clears?

Find out what warranties they offer for the work they’ve done before you hire them. Even if they do offer warranties, will they be dependable. Will they address the issue when you bring it to their attention, or will they dodge your calls/ say they’ll get to it when they have time?

Conclusion

Hiring someone to do work for you needn’t lead to a frustrating battle. Figuring out who the best contractor to work with can be a pleasant experience when you understand what to look for and when you hire a solid professional. No contractor or company is perfect, the trick is to find the ones who give it their all to try and be. When it comes to improving your home and sense of living, investing the time and doing the research can be well worth it when it leads to a great result, and when the process was relatively stress free.

Don’t think we should put all our usually ending. Instead maybe we put a landing page that takes them back to your websites homepage or something.home-sweet-home

To learn more about how to improve your outdoor living space, call us at (801)440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website, www.utahlights.com

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.

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