If you’re looking to remodel your bathroom, read on!
You deserve an awesome bathroom, so we caught up with Arthur Short, whose company, Nothing Short of a Handyman2, has been remodeling Atlanta bathrooms with custom showers and gorgeous vanities since 2000. He’s got some great advice for choosing a contractor to remodel your bathroom!
Arthur told us that he’s always liked to work with his hands. We asked Arthur what’s been the key to his success, and he replied, “We’ve made a success of our business because we know it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, we work hard to make our clients happy. Many times, they become closer than family. They come back to us or refer friends to us year after year. This is the only way to build a contracting business.”
There are many home improvement contractors in Atlanta that could redo your bathroom. We asked Arthur to share a few pointers on how to select the right remodeling contractor to work with.
He quickly rattled off a few helpful questions to ask:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have references?
- What kind of customer service do they provide?
- What are they going to do and why are they going to do it? Can they explain their plan?
- How do they handle themselves?
- Will they use subcontractors or will they do the work themselves?
- Do they have insurance?
Let’s take these one at a time.
How long have they been in business?
You want to make sure that the contractor you choose not only has the`experience to do the job but will be here to warranty the work later. You don’t want someone practicing on your bathroom plumbing, tile, and electrical wiring, do you?
Here are some things to look for…
- Good online reviews.
- A professional-looking, quality website.
- If they have the same name and business phone number that they started with.
We asked Arthur why it’s so important that the company has had the same phone number since they opened their business. He said, “The only reason someone changes phone numbers is to duck angry customers and bill collectors. We’ve had the same business number since we started in 2000. I have people tell me all the time, ‘You did work for us years ago. I can’t believe you have the same phone number! Can you help our friends out?’”
Do they have good references?
Arthur said, “Look at their website again — it can serve as one of the best references for the contractor. What does it say about them? Is it professional? Their website reflects the kind of work they’ll do for you. Are there pictures on their website of the work they’ve done in the past? I have all kinds of pictures of work we’ve done on my website, and I tell customers that I’ll gladly give them the name and phone number of the homeowner that corresponds to the picture they want to know more about.”
He continued, “Are they confident in their work? Are they proud of past jobs they have done? I treat my customer’s home just like it was mine. I build a really good relationship with them so they are only happy to tell new customers about the work I have done for them.”
So before you hire a contractor, talk to their references and check out any pictures of work they’ve done. You can even use websites like Angieslist.com or homeadvisor.com.
What kind of customer service do they provide?
“Customer service is important to me personally,” Arthur said. “I’ve paid money out of my own pocket to get out of contracts with companies that gave me bad customer service. That’s why I treat my customers like family. I’m a hands-on business owner. I do the sales, proposals, management, and the physical work on the job site. My name is attached to it and so I want it done right.”
Arthur told us that he treats his employees like family too. He added, “When I go on vacation I don’t have to worry because I trust them. They know how I want it done and they have been trained to do it that way.”
Notice how the contractor talks to his helpers and about his employees. Customer service starts within the company itself. A wise business owner understands that his employees are his first customers. They know that if they take care of the employees first, the customer will always be taken care of too.
Returning phone calls.
Another point that Arthur brought up is how the contractor handles phone calls—specifically, whether or not they actually return them. He said, “Think about it. Why would a contractor refuse to return phone calls? The answer is that they are usually ducking and dodging unhappy customers. On the other hand, my business line is forwarded to my cell phone after hours so that I’m always available to my customers. After all, that’s what customer service should be about, right?”
Use how/if they answer the phone as a gauge of how they will do the work in your home. Are they professional? Do they answer the phone? How long does it take them to return your call? If they act unprofessionally when you want to give them money, how will they act when they have your money and you want customer service later on?
Ask them to explain what they’re going to do and why.
If they hem and haw about their plan, that should be a red flag. If they can’t explain it, they might not know what they’re doing, or they could be planning on taking your money and running. Look for a contractor that takes the time to educate you. If they can’t explain your “what” or “why” questions, it’s best to find someone that can. You deserve to feel comfortable with the entire remodeling process.
How do they handle themselves?
Arthur told us that his prospects start examining him from the moment that he pulls up to the house and walks up the driveway for an estimate. He recommends that you do the same. “What’s their appearance? What does their vehicle look like? Is it maintained? Is it clean? Does it look professional?”
He continued, “How do they handle themselves while in your home? If they don’t believe in themselves, then why should you? Trust your gut instincts. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable about them personally then step away.”
It comes down to this: what does your gut tell you? Listen to your instincts. If your “Spidey senses” are tingling, there’s usually a good reason not to work with that remodeling company.
Will they use subcontractors or will they do the work themselves?
This is something to think about. Who will physically be doing the work at your home? Are they an employee or a subcontractor? Does it even matter? The answer is yes, it does. “The problem comes up if you have to sue the signer of the contract,” Arthur said. “Let’s say the contractor doesn’t finish the work according to the contract. It may be faulty or perhaps the GC takes your money and skips town. If a subcontractor did the work, then you have no recourse to protect yourself.”
Do they have insurance?
We asked Arthur why a homeowner has no protection with a subcontractor. He shared, “The sub did not sign your contract, so he doesn’t work for you. Instead, his contract was with the General Contractor that skipped town. Plus, many time subs do not carry insurance. You want to make sure that everyone working on your home remodel has proper insurance.”
Ask the contractor to see proof of insurance before you hire them. Then ask if all workers on your project will be covered. One of our foremost rules is to only work with contractors who have at the very least general liability insurance.
Do they offer suggestions, ideas, and advice to save you money?
Arthur has asked his clients why they like working with him. These are some of the answers he gets:
- The other contractors talked down to me.
- Other contractors spoke over my head, so I didn’t understand what they were saying.
- Other contractors never offered any ideas. They didn’t have anything to offer even though I like getting new ideas.
- Other contractors didn’t show me ways that I could save money.
Arthur said, “It comes down to this. You as the homeowner know what you want, but you might not be sure how to get there.”
If the contractor you’re considering fails these tests, you might want to keep looking to find the right company to work with. Look for a contractor that takes a consultative approach to helping you get what you want. Ask them for suggestions to see what they have to offer. A bathroom remodeler who’s done many jobs should have plenty of pictures of showers, vanities, lighting fixtures, and cabinet ideas for you to look at.
This concludes Part One of How to Choose a Contractor to Remodel Your Bathroom. In Part Two, we’ll talk about salesmen, licensing, common contractor scams, and why buying a foreclose might not be a great idea. Special thanks to Arthur Short! You can check out his company, Nothing Short of a Handyman2, on their website.