Repairing a fire damaged house can go smoothly or it can be a process filled with difficulties, delays and cost overruns. The biggest determining factor for the success of your project is the fire damage restoration contractor you select.
The truth is there is no shortage of horror stories out there about incompetent contractors trying to complete fire damaged house repairs. From being late to having poor communication skills to delivering shoddy work to using cheap materials to charging hidden fees or unexpectedly raising their fees, there is certainly a lot that can go wrong when you hire the wrong contractor. And the consequences of a poor hiring decision can be anything from a minor annoyance to the putting of your and your family’s lives at risk in a poorly repaired fire-damaged house.
That’s why we can’t stress enough that if you need a contractor, you must choose carefully. Hiring the wrong contractor will cost you both time and money. So how can you reduce the likelihood of a bad hire?
Here are some tips to follow to ensure you hire the best contractor for your fire damaged house repairs:
Tip #1: Don’t Just Hire the First Person Recommended to You
You should avoid hiring a contractor simply because of who they know or who they are related to. Instead you should look for a contractor who has extensive credentials. Look at how many fire damaged houses they have developed in the past. Look at who their clients were.
One more thing to keep in mind here, don’t just hire someone because they have the low bid either. As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. That’s not to say you need to go broke to find a great contractor, but you shouldn’t be choosing someone on price alone either.
Tip #2: Don’t Hire Solely Based on Price
We touched on this previously but it bears repeating now – hiring someone because they are the lowest priced is an easy way to end up costing yourself a lot more money later on. We have found that those who hire solely on price usually end up paying more later to have problems fixed.
Please keep in mind that all contractors are NOT created equal. A cheap price usually means a cheap job. Really good contractors do NOT work cheap because they are in high demand. The only contractors that work cheap are often those that are just starting out and they are grossly inexperienced.
Remember, an inexperienced or unqualified contractor can end up costing more because:
- They improperly diagnose problems, which means you’re paying them to fix the WRONG thing, which won’t resolve your problem.
- They could take 3 to 5 times as long to do the same project as an experienced contractor. Those are extra hours that you will be paying for!
- They could do MORE damage, costing you more money and downtime.
It is important to remember that while there is no doubt that pricing is important; hiring based on pricing alone can cost you more over the long run. Always strive to err on the side of skills over price.
Tip #3: Interview More Than One Contractor
When you are searching for a contractor to repair a fire damaged house, the second or third person you talk to might say something that shows you the first person was way off-target. Talk to at least three different contractors before making your decision. That way, you can get a better view of which is best for your product.
When interviewing contractors keep this in mind as well – honest contractors usually won’t be able to give you a quote during one quick phone call. Just like a good doctor, an honest and professional contractor will need to diagnose your project specifications before they can quote any price.
Also, some contractors quote you a cheap rate over the phone to get in the door, but then jack up the prices once they start working on the project by taking 3 times as long, selling you on additional work to be done in order to complete the project (which they forgot to estimate) and if questioned, often times they try to blame you for not being clear in your initial project requirements.
One of the easiest ways for a contractor to take advantage of a customer is to get them to agree to a lower quote to complete the project. Unless you know what’s really needed to complete the project and how long it should take, they can soak you on the fees. And what are you going to do when they get half way into the project and then spring on you the news that it is going to take even longer than they anticipated to fix it, costing you MORE money?
Tip #4: Don’t Fall for Too Good to Be True Completion Times
The truth is repairing a fire damaged house is a complex process. It takes time to get it right. That’s why if a contractor promises to finish in a much shorter time than everyone else is saying it is going to take, you need to run away fast.
Chances are when you’re quoted a short delivery time, the repairs are going to be very basic and riddled with errors or the work is not going to be finished by the promised date (in which case you also need to make sure there aren’t going to be additional fees added to the project cost).
Remember the old saying “haste makes waste” and stay away from contractors promising too good to be true delivery times.
Tip #5: Don’t Make a Rushed Hiring Decision
Don’t even think about choosing a contractor based on a single phone call. We recommend you give them a well-drafted job spec project and ask them for a written proposal. Be clear on what your expectations are and what type of work you want them to complete.
As stated a moment ago, a competent professional should gather and analyze your project requirements and draw out a custom project execution plan for your project BEFORE quoting you anything. After all, would you take a doctor’s word that you need surgery if they hadn’t done X-rays or other diagnostics? Of course not! Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.
Tip #6: Be Sure to Verify a Contractor’s Credentials
You need to be sure that your contractor has the proper insurance and licensing or else you could run into a lot of problems later on.
You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn more about the contractors company. All reviews provided on www.BBB.org are verified by the organization so that you rest assured that a company listed there with good reviews is credible.
Want to Avoid Hiring a Contractor and Going Through a Lengthy Repair Process?
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