Finding beautiful flooring is the easy part; choosing the right contractor to install it is where it gets sticky. Finding a contractor you can trust is the most important aspect of the job.
Start with Your Budget
Budgets take time, research and planning.
You probably have a good idea of what you can spend on flooring, but the contractor’s costs must be included in your budget. If you can’t afford a reputable one, consider lowering your flooring budget to fit him in. If not, it’s best to save until you can hire the right person for the job.
The cheapest contractor that you can find is worth almost every penny; you get what you pay for. Don’t trust your Brazilian cherry wood floor installation to someone who guarantees a great price, but has never worked with it before.
Ask for References, Hope for a Portfolio
If a contractor has been in business very long, they should have and be willing to offer references. This isn’t just a friendly gesture; you should call the references and ask their opinion of the contractors work.
If you’re lucky, you might find a contractor with a portfolio. Seeing their work in photos gives you an idea of what to expect.
A reputable contractor is comfortable describing his/her experience and fees.
License and Proof of Insurance, Please
Even with references, only hire a contractor after verifying that they are licensed and insured. At minimum, they need a general contractor’s license. If they have had additional training in flooring, especially the type you want installed, all the better.
Insurance protects both you and the contractor; all flooring contractors should have it. If your home is damaged or there is an accident due to their work, insurance keeps the responsibility off of your shoulders. Always verify that licenses and insurance are current.
What’s Their Specialty?
The best and brightest carpet installers might only have average skills setting tile, and you need that information up front. Choose a contractor who has proven experience installing the floor that you want.
Some contractors have spent years gaining experience with every type of flooring imaginable, and they are valuable people to have on your side. If their portfolio shows expertly installed halls with marble, bathrooms with tile, living rooms with exotic hardwoods and bedrooms covered with luxurious carpeting, you should put them at the top of your list.
Get at Least Three Quotes
Don’t stop with just one contractor, even if one seems perfect. Get at least three quotes to compare, and choose the best one that can work within your budget.
Quotes should include, at minimum, estimated hours or completion date, identifies who supplies the materials, and shows labor rates and how they are calculated. A contractor who supplies the flooring may have access to better prices than you.
Comparing quotes might expose differences among the contractors that you didn’t expect. If one includes the cost of renting a wet saw and another doesn’t, the contractor without it probably has his own saw and might have more tile experience.
While there is no magic formula for finding a reputable flooring contractor, being conscientious and asking the right questions goes a long way. Learning as much as you can up front minimizes the possibility of disappointment later. End