Choosing a Professional Contractor

When do I need a Contractor?

In the state of Tennessee, a Contractor’s License is required for even bidding on any project costing more than $25,000. A licensed Contractor has passed the Tennessee Business and Law Exam as well as a trade exam. Consumer Reports also suggests that if a project requires more than three subcontractors, you might want to seek the services of a contractor. When you hire a professional contractor, you are not buying a product but a service. The professional contractor should :

  • Provide quality materials that fit within your budget
  • Understand your needs an wants and be able to translate your dreams into reality by coordinating design services either in-house or with a professional designer or architect.
  • Save you money by eliminating error and waste
  • Communicate effectively with you throughout the remodeling process by responding promptly to service calls and inquiries
  • Maintain a safe and clean jobsite
  • Guarantee his/her work with a warranty
  • Ensure that all work meets local building codes and regulations

Where do I find a contractor?

What questions should I ask?

  • Ask for the company’s contact information; avoid a contractor who is reluctant to give you a real address or contact information.
  • Is the contractor licensed, bonded, and insured? A contractor should carry both general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Having the proper coverage protects you – the homeowner – from claims arising from property damage and jobsite injuries.
  • How long has the contractor been working in the community?
  • Is the contractor willing to give you references? When you contact your contractor’s client references, be sure the scope of work involved is similar to that which you wish to have done. Ask for past clients as well as trade references. Ask past clients if they would hire the contractor again. Ask trade references if the contractor has an account or pays on delivery (most suppliers extend credit to financially sound companies).
  • Can you visit a jobsite in progress?
  • Is the contractor a member of any trade organizations?
  • Do they have experience with projects similar to yours?

Making a Decision

  • Ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the remodeler and confident that they can complete your project according to your wishes and budget.
  • If you compare estimates from more than one contractor, be sure they are based on the same set of plans and scope of work. It is helpful to make a list of items you want for your project and write them down to be sure each contractor is pricing the same project. An extremely low bid may indicate lack of experience or inability to estimate actual costs.
  • Your remodeler should have completed a variety of successful projects and have experience with your type of project. Remember that the lowest bid does not promise the best remodeling experience.


Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors

National Association of Home Builders

Consumer Reports

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