Your flip will only be as good as the people on your team. Hiring a contractor can take time but it is worth the work to get a contractor within your budget, who agrees to your timeline, has good reviews, and who you get along with.
I have looked for and vetted many contractors, and, thankfully have found some who check all these boxes and who I stick with at this point. For you to do the same, I have compiled a helpful list of ten things to look for in a contractor.
Getting references from people you trust might be the best way to find a contractor. I recommend reaching out to your network in the real estate industry for connections, especially fellow flippers. You can also ask within local social media like Facebook or Nextdoor.
In addition to asking those you trust for references, check out: Facebook groups and pages, Yelp reviews, contractor social media accounts, google reviews, Angie’s list, Thumb Tack, and Craigslist.
Hiring a contractor without insurance is risky. Always ask contractors for proof of the following insurance types:
- Commercial General Liability Insurance
- Workers Compensation Insurance
- Contractors Pollution Insurance
- Automobile Liability Insurance
- Builders Risk Insurance
- Roofers Insurance
While working with contractors without insurance is cheaper, it’s not the best option. If something happens on the job site, you as the owner, are considered the contractor and will be liable.
Building contractors are usually required to have licensing to build. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, so looking into that ahead of time will give you peace of mind that you won’t run into issues after getting the project.
Additionally, as long as your contractor has insurance, it protects you from lawsuits arising from contractor actions. Should the contractor cause damage or injury, you will not be stuck with the bill.
Willing to Provide a Bid
Contractors who offer a bid are already showing they might be a good option. They have all considered all fees and inclusions and created a proposal specific to your project. Be cautious of very low bids and get more than one contractor bid to compare them, and not go with the most expensive if you don’t need to.
When asking for a bid, here are some things to do and ask for:
- Be specific and detailed in your request.
- Be open to questions (a contractor with no questions is a red flag).
- Compare bids you receive.
- Consider respectfully negotiating on price.
I recommend getting at least three bids. Provide each contractor with the same scope of work and request a bid based on the information provided. Keeping this uniform for each contractor makes it possible to compare apples to apples.
There are pros and cons when it comes to a contractor’s crews. Some contractors have an in-house crew, while others hire subcontractors for jobs (or you will be doing the hiring).
An existing in-house crew is ideal. That way, the crew has a rapport and team mentality. The head contractor is also familiar with the skills of their workers and can identify if they are a good fit for your project. Hiring subcontractors can also mean spending more time on hiring and less time on the project and dealing with scheduling conflicts and mixed skill sets.
Can Provide Proof of Work and Has the Right Experience
Even if you have strong references, getting proof of past work and confirming experience is still critical. These things will require an open conversation about past projects and knowledge and asking for references.
Before approaching a contractor with these questions, you should have a handle on your ideal schedule, budget and flip plans. If you want to completely level the house, be sure this isn’t their first rodeo. Same idea with roofing, full demolition of a room or rooms… The more experience the better!
Will Enter Into a Contract
Frankly, it’s a bad sign if the contractor will not enter into a contract. Your contract should include everything agreed upon between you and your licensed contractor.
Be sure to include:
- The work
- The payment amounts and time of payment
- Who is responsible for licensing and permits
You will also ask for the license number and address at this time for the contract.
Accepts Payments Based Upon Progress
Payment amounts and schedules should be spelled out in the contract. I recommend a contractor who agrees to payments based on progress.
Sometimes called “progress payment,” you will pay your contractor at specified milestones throughout the project, for example, after demolition, when roofing is done, or another progress marker.
Follows a Schedule and Agrees to Completion Date
This is crucial to a smooth partnership and successful flip. Discuss as much as possible with the contractor before choosing them, include agreed-upon information, and get it all in writing.
Contractors get a bad rap at times for their slow or low-quality work. Beware of these few contractors and opt for the recommended contractors who follow a schedule and agree to a completion date!
Has Strong Communication
Communication is key. Not only so you want an open conversation when deciding if they’re a fit, but communication is needed from beginning to end.
I recommend working with contractors who show they are open to conversation, responsive, and pleasant from the beginning. If the contractor is showing you how they are not good communicators before the contract is signed, take it to heart and look elsewhere.
A Final Note
Ideally, you’ll be able to find someone with plenty of experience flipping houses. Why? Because one of the primary ingredients in the recipe for a successful flip is a solid structure with the right upgrades.
You’re new at this, so you want someone who can advise you on what they’ve seen work in the past. If that’s not possible, it can still work out. Treat this like the very serious business relationship and choose wisely. This may be a relationship that lasts through several house flipping projects.
Ready to take that next step when it comes to flipping?
Checkout my Find Your Flip Course to learn the key steps I use in my business to find best houses to flip. The course will teach you how to spot potential, and aid you in determining your needs and wants in your flip business.
Additionally, I have these helpful resources:
Make sure you have the Fixer Upper Checklist, so you know which areas are critical to added value in a home.
If you are interested in learning more about the House Flip Blueprint course, go here!
There are several videos on finding houses, renovations, and funding on YouTube. Check out your favorite flipping topics and new videos weekly.