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remodeling your bathroom five things to look for when choosing a contractor

Man setting tile on cement board. He is tapping the tile in place with the handle of a hammer. Closeup. Real person on the job.

It should come as no surprise to you that remodeling bathrooms is big business in the U.S. Just open your phone book and start looking and you’ll see more contractors available then you know what to do with. Nevertheless, not all contractors are created equal. Some are better than others in a number of ways. When you’re looking for a contractor to remodel your bathroom, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.

Finding the right contractor is a matter of understanding how the business works and knowing exactly what you expect. To help you get started, here are five things to look for when choosing a contractor:

1. Contractor Reputation Any established bathroom remodeling contractor is going to have a certain reputation within the local community. You can take a look into a company’s reputation in several ways, including online review websites. General review websites are good but those that require membership and reject contractor advertising are even better.

2. Customer References Hand-in-hand with a good community reputation is an ample supply of positive customer references. Any remodeling contractor worth doing business with will be more than happy to supply you with the names and contact information of satisfied customers. Take advantage of that information by contacting three or four of the choices. Ask direct questions that require direct answers.

3. Itemized Estimates One of the oldest tricks in the contractor book is to provide a total cost estimate without itemization. Those that use this practice do so as a means of padding their profits. Do not ever accept estimates that are not itemized. It’s important that you know all the materials used, how much each will cost, and the total cost of labor. Along the same lines, ask what happens to unused materials.

4. Customer Service When you first contact a contractor pay attention to the customer service you receive. Is there a secretary or sales professional answering phones? If you get voice mail, is your call promptly returned? Is the contractor willing to answer your questions in a straightforward manner or is he hedging? The customer service you receive in your initial contact is the same service you are likely to receive after you sign the deal.

5. Suppliers Contractors obviously do not make their own cabinetry, tubs and toilets, and so on. That means their choice of suppliers is important to you. Find out who their suppliers are and what brand names they carry. Do not be stuck with cheap materials that are likely to have to be replaced prematurely. This is especially true for things like fixtures and cabinetry, which tend to wear very quickly. By paying attention to these five simple things, you should be able to find at least one or two contractors you can trust with your bathroom remodel. If it takes a while to find one, keep looking until you do. Do not settle for a second rate contractor unless you are willing to live with second-rate results.

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