How to Verify the Quality of a Contractor’s Work
Go past the basic, surface-level background check of contractor candidates and get to the nitty-gritty: What is the quality of their work. Here’s how to do that.
Pictures and reviews, while important, only show so much. The only way of really knowing the type of work a contractor is capable of achieving is by actually going and seeing a project they have completed. See their work in person before moving forward on your own remodel.
If the contractor refuses, maybe it’s time to look at other options. After all, your home and money are valuable and should be left to someone with whom you don’t have complete faith.
Here are a few things to look for:
When it comes to tile installation, you are looking for a job where all the tiles are level, square (meaning they butt up to each other at 90 degree angles), and installed so that no tiles are caving in or jutting out. In addition, the grout lines should level as well, evenly sized throughout, and as thin as possible. There are exceptions due to designer preferences, but for the most part tiles should look smooth and evenly placed, and the grout should be an even, thin line.
The best way to know the quality of a paint job is to walk up to the painted area, close your eyes and feel it with your hands. Are there any rough spots, drip marks or other inconsistencies? A yes answer to any of those questions means it isn’t a high-caliber paint job. Other signs of a decent paint job include clean cut-ins at the ceiling (no wobbly lines between the wall and ceiling colors) and an even finish throughout the entire job. For instance, if the walls are supposed to be a matte finish, they should appear that way everywhere.
Similar to tile, a quality trim installation should be very straight and geometric. For instance, are the corners of the crown molding mitered together seamlessly? Are the casing around the doors and windows level and are the corners neat?
The answer in both cases should be yes. In addition, nail holes in the trim should not be visible, and there should not be any obvious seams.
Doors and Cabinets
A good, quick test for doors and cabinets, without getting too personal and intrusive in someone else’s home, is to open and close a few to ensure they move smoothly, without sticking.
Be on the lookout for countertops with weirdly placed seams or big gaps that have been filled with caulk. This is a sign that the original templating was not done well. Odd seams or gaps mean the countertop fabricator probably didn’t cut measure correctly.
For can lights, make sure they are in line and evenly spaced. Are there any flickering or flashing units? Check any dimmers to make sure they function correctly. A common mistake is the mispairing of LED bulbs and a dimmer. When this happens, lights that should dim either don’t dim at all, or flicker and act strange.
In addition to the above features you can see for yourself on a remodel project, be sure to also ask the contractor about the scope of work and the customer’s requests or expectations. Answers to these questions can be just as important as the quality of work.
Where there any challenges (expected or unexpected)? If so, how were they resolved?
How long ago was the remodel completed?
Have there been any warranty issues?