As your fix and flip business grows, you may encounter remodel projects you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself, or just don’t have time for. Especially if you’re holding projects as rentals, there may be times when you need something fixed unexpectedly. If you’re busy with other properties/projects, you might not be able to get to it yourself. It’s at these times when you might need to hire a contractor, even if you normally strive to do the repair work and remodels yourself. When you’re working on your fix and flip, there are a few basic Dos and Don’ts of working with contractors that can save you some headaches.
Depending on how many projects you have going on at any given time, you may have too much repair work to handle. When these types of situations occur, having a contractor at your disposal that you know you work well with is key. Many good contractors are too busy to schedule last-minute projects into their pipeline. Let’s look at these Dos and Don’ts.
Dos and Don’ts of Working With Contractors
Do your own research.
If you can, watch some YouTube videos or look at trade magazines to find similar projects, so you have an idea of what the scope of yours might be. It will help you understand your options, because sometimes there may be more than one way to complete a project, or you might have a special case that could be complicated. See if you can find an industry standard. There is no substitute for experience. The more projects under your belt, the more you will know.
This is almost a no-brainer. Ask your friends and family, for sure. But in particular, ask others in your fix and flip community who they use and what their past experiences are. Chances are they will be very eager to tell you about the great contractors as well as the poor ones. Even if you get a glowing review from someone you trust, take the time to interview that contractor and make sure their communication style as well as their availability works for you.
Ask how long the project will take.
Rather than just getting a quote to “do the work,” make sure you know how long they expect the job to take. If a quote has a high amount of labor because they are charging for four days for work when your research shows it can be done in two, this could be a red flag. Remember, time is money, and its important to keep your project on track.
Don’t hire the cheapest contractor.
Do get competitive bids, but don’t necessarily hire the cheapest one automatically. There could be reasons behind the cheapness. What materials will they be using? Have they done this type of work before? Make sure the estimate covers ALL costs, so that you won’t be surprised by hidden fees later on. Some unscrupulous contractors vastly underbid others to get work, then pile on the fees that homeowners weren’t expecting. These extra fees could cover material changes, additional labor, clean up, preparation to begin work, or any change to the scope of the work.
Don’t pay for work up front.
It is not a good idea to pay for work up front. You may be asked to pay a 10% sign-on fee as a good faith payment that you agree to hire this particular contractor for this work. You may agree to payments as the job progresses. If the contractor says they need payment up front to purchase the materials, this could be a red flag. A reputable contractor has the assets to cover cost of materials and labor upon starting a job. If they don’t, they could be close to going out of business or just not a reliable company.
Don’t agree to work without a contract.
The contract details the work to be provided. Even for small jobs, this will protect you in case something does not work out as planned.