How to Hire Contractors

Know what to look for when choosing professionals to do your bathroom renovation.

Before you invite a crew to remodel your bathroom, collect references from other homeowners. You want genuine feedback from real people who have lived through a bathroom renovation with the designer or firm you're considering. Get the dirty details.

"A designer needs to be extremely detailed because a bathroom is smaller in scale, so the tile layout and fixture locations all become really critical," says Cameron Snyder, president, Roomscapes Luxury Design Center, Boston, Mass., and past-president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). "Be sure to review all plans."

On a personal level, the professionals you bring into the home to help with your project will be in your home all day long and, perhaps, for several weeks or longer. "When you pick a remodeler, it's like a marriage," says Ken Perrin, president, Artistic Renovations, Cleveland, Ohio. "You're living with that person for a while. So be sure to hire someone you can get along with. They might be great craftspeople but if you don't like them, you won't want them in your home."

Perrin insists that all of his trade associates are "courteous and clean."

Refer to trade groups such as National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) for designer and contractor referrals. And always interview a few designers or contractors before making a final decision.

Don't delegate your bathroom renovation to just any pro. Do your homework and perform a thorough check-up on any tradesperson you invite onto the job.

  • Ask for proof of insurance. Contractors should carry personal liability, workers' compensation and property damage coverage.
  • Check the company's track record with the BBB.
  • Consult with your local building department to find out licensing requirements in your area (they vary by state and municipality). Ask to see the contractor's license and make sure it is up-to-date.
  • Ask for a list of references, and call at least three of them. Find out what projects the contractor has completed in the last year.
  • If hiring a GC, find out what subcontractors he or she will hire. Do some research on these contractors to make sure they have a solid reputation with the BBB. You can also ask your local building department for feedback.
  • Interview more than one contractor for the job and ask for written proposals and estimates.

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