Starting a garage conversion project is always going to be more complicated than you initially believe. No matter how efficient or talented a do-it-yourselfer you are, if you want to execute a garage conversion, you’re going to need professional help. Here are a few things you should consider when hiring a contractor for a garage conversion.
Always contact the accessory dwelling unit contractors by telephone. You are going to want to contact multiple contractors for your garage conversion project. However, while it might be simpler to send an email to numerous prospects, it’s a better idea to contact a potential contractor by phone. If you call a contractor and leave a message only to hear nothing back, that’s a significant red flag. You want someone who is going to respond to you promptly during your project.
Always look up your contractor’s license. In the state of California, you can look up a building contractor’s licenses online fairly easily. This will tell you if a contractor has a valid operating license, and also if there are any transgressions attached to that license.
Check to see if the contractor has made an insurance claim recently. There’s nothing inherently wrong with filing insurance claims, but it is important to know what those claims were for.
Contact a minimum of three former clients. You will also want to see photographs of the interior and exterior work.
If at all possible, speak to the owner of the construction company. The “point person” you were likely dealing with was a sales representative. Make sure you speak to the owner before agreeing to use their services.
Check online reviews. Online reviews are tricky — it’s difficult to know whether they are genuine, fueled by the animosity of a competitor or one disgruntled former client, or being manipulated by the business itself. However, if the company’s online reviews are stellar, it is an indication that, at the very least, the business knows how to manage its online reputation and performs some measure of due diligence. Also, if the company responds to issues and concerns, it demonstrates attentiveness to client needs.
Make your expectations clear. Write down the behaviors you consider important or non-negotiable in your contractor and show the list to your project manager. If there is any disagreement, have the representative give you a detailed explanation. Create a code of conduct that both parties can agree to.
Be on the lookout for constant upgrade suggestions and vagaries. Are there a lot of “TBD” notations in the contractor’s estimate? Do you get the sense that your representative is trying an aggressive upsell? These can be signs of an untrustworthy contractor.
EcoSmart Builders provides end-to-end project management services to Los Angeles property owners seeking to undertake garage conversion projects. For more details about accessory dwelling unit construction, including detached ADU, attached ADU, Junior ADU, or garage conversion, please visit our information page.