The perfect fit: Finding a contractor requires chemistry


Do you often find yourself completing your spouse’s (or your sibling’s) sentences? Do you have a good friend whom you don’t see very often, yet every time you pick up the phone, it’s as if you’ve never been apart? That intangible connection and natural flow of communication between two individuals is key to a long-lasting relationship, but you might not have realized just how important chemistry can be when it comes to selecting a contractor for your home remodeling project.

After all, you’ll be seeing your contractor on an almost daily basis, and he or she will be your voice in communicating your vision to all of the individuals who will work on your project. So ensuring that the two of you are able to communicate well and comfortably from your very first meeting is essential.

Yet selecting a contractor goes far beyond picking someone with a compatible personality. Of course, there are the basics (see Building Blocks of Trust for more details on those). Beyond that, experience is critical. “Being a professional contractor entails far more than hanging a sign on a truck; it requires a great deal of education (and continuing education) combined with varied hands-on experience,” explains Gary R. Palmer, a licensed general contractor. “There’s simply no substitute for having worked in the field for a number of years and having dealt with the challenges that are certain to ‘pop up’,” noted Palmer, who himself has more than three decades of experience in remodeling, new custom home construction and residential repairs. “Your contractor’s experience will allow him to implement creative solutions and will give you a comfort level that he has successfully ‘been there and done that’ in the past.”

It’s also essential that the contractor you select runs an operationally solid, fiscally sound business. “The financial side is obvious – if it’s not a stable company, it might not be around to complete your project, and it definitely won’t be there in a few years to stand behind its work,” Palmer cautioned. “What you may not realize is that much of the critical planning, ordering and scheduling work in a project goes on back at the office and is dependent on the contractor’s ability to organize and run things smoothly from a business perspective. A professional approach is essential to handling the strategic coordination involved in ordering quality materials and scheduling the right trade professionals to ensure a timely result.”

A good dose of common sense is equally important. For example, while working on one time-critical project, Palmer decided to postpone work for a day because of a predicted torrential downpour. “While we could have done interior work that day, we knew that all the trades people walking in and out would have created a monumental mess that would have stressed the homeowner and which we would have lost even more hours cleaning up. Therefore, a short delay actually saved time and stress. Because the homeowner trusted our judgment, she didn’t agonize over the brief stoppage, and we ultimately finished on time.”

For more tips on finding a reputable contractor, visit Palmer Custom Builders’ blog at

Building Blocks of Trust

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recommends a number of areas you should consider when selecting a contractor:

Select a contractor with an established area business specializing in your type of project.

Check local references to ensure that past clients are satisfied with their service.

Call the Better Business Bureau to make sure there isn’t an adverse file on record for the company.

Ask to see a copy of the contractor’s certification of insurance or for the name of his insurance agency to verify critical coverage, such as worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance.

Check your state licensing board to ensure that the contractor has the proper license and that it is valid for the scope and monetary limits of your project. A higher license ensures a greater depth of financial resources and may also be an indicator of diversity of skills and experience.

If you are getting bids from several different sources, make certain they are all bidding on the same scope and quality of work to ensure a fair comparison.

— Courtesy of IE News Service.