You’ve made the decision to improve your home, whether it’s a full-blown renovation or an extension project, the right contractor can be make or break.

This is a subject that has been broached a couple of times in our blogs, which truly highlights the importance of it!

I thought I would collate a few tips and tricks that I think are super useful to bear in mind when you start your contractor hunt.


Get Talking!

Personally, I think this is the most valuable tip. 

Ask your friends, your family, and your neighbours if they know or have worked with any reliable contractors in the past. 

It could even be worth joining a few social media pages dedicated to house projects and asking for suggestions that way, when a contractor goes above and beyond for a client, that client will be more than happy to shout about it and provide photo evidence of the handywork. Don’t be scared to try different avenues to get the information you need.

Have A Nosey

A good contractor should also be able to provide their own examples of their work too. 

Olive & Umber for example, like to offer the chance to visit an ‘active’ site, this way you can see how our team gels together on a working site. 

We also like to be able to put you in touch with any past clients where possible, giving you the chance to ask specific questions and hear the answer from someone who has actually had the O&U experience.

The Price Is Right

Maybe this sounds like counterintuitive advice, but don’t go for the cheapest offer without considering other aspects of what that contractor is offering. 

If a quote seems too low, especially in comparison to other quotes you’ve received, maybe dig a little bit deeper. Make sure there won’t be any hidden costs later on down the road and get a real detailed break down of what’s actually included in the price. I’m not saying you need to bin off the cheap offer just because it’s cheap, but I do highly recommend doing your research and asking the right questions. 

Study The Estimate

This ties in nicely with the above. Really delve into what your estimates and quotes include. Has a contractor just added a bunch of products and services that you didn’t ask for? Have they forgotten to include something that’s non-negotiable to you? The specifications you’ve given, are they being met and honoured? 

Choose An Established Contractor With Premises

I think this is an underrated tip, having a contractor with a physical presence and premises means you can visit the office – social distancing permitted – and again get a feel for how that particular contractor works as a team. 

The office team is potentially who you’re going to be conversing with the most on the lead up to your project starting, so this also gives you a chance to put names to faces too, which is always nice, right?

Olive & Umber’s offices are located in Peterborough and are actually a trio of converted shipping containers. It’s a pretty cool set up, we have the main office in one container, a kitchen area/break room/shower room in another and storage in the third. It’s very snazzy and we love showing it off when we can!

Don’t Make Assumptions

If you have specific plans of how you want your project results to look, you need to make sure that you’re as vocal about it as possible from the get-go. Don’t assume that your contractor knows your style. I know that one of, if not the, most important qualities of a contractor is that their communication style fits yours, if it doesn’t then this is going to be a painful project. A good contractor will adapt to fit your style and keep you in the loop throughout the project.

With us, if a client wants to be part of our WhatsApp group for your specific project, then we are more than happy to have you included in that. This way you are fully involved with the goings on of your project and even get to see some sneak peek pictures of how the guys are getting on! 

Know What You Want 

It’s vital to know what you actually want from your contractor, have a think about this and compile a tick list that will help you choose the right company and save both parties a lot of time in the initial stages. Here’s a few to start you off:

  • Do they take on projects of my size?
  • Does the timeframe suit my situation?
  • When can they start?

You Gotta Have Faith

Trusting your contractor is essential. Whether it’s a big project or a more precise one, you need to have faith in your chosen contractor. If you don’t think that they’re going to do the job how you want, it could result in you checking up a bit too much on the contractor, giving away the fact that you don’t trust them, which is just an awkward situation to be in and could create a bit of animosity between the two parties. 

Trust Your Gut

Are you still excited about your project? 

You should by now have a decent enough relationship with the firm you’re considering choosing that you can have an open conversation with them and iron out any niggling feelings you have about the project. 

At O&U we definitely recognise how big of decision it is choosing a contractor, it’s a lot of money to part with so you should have the good kind of butterflies in your stomach when you sign the contract and get things finalised. This is why we have a (virtual for now) open door policy; we make sure that our team is as contactable as possible by phone, email, DM, Zoom or whatever way you prefer! Carrier pigeon?! 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

If the contractor you’ve chosen doesn’t draw up a contractor for both parties to sign, either get one drawn up yourself or run! 

There’s no reason why a contractor should not want to have a signed document agreeing to works and procedures. It’s actually super beneficial to both sides of the agreement. It avoids the potential for misunderstandings, gives peace of mind to all signee’s and can act as a legal basis for any dispute resolution. 

I’ve only touched on a couple points for now, but I would absolutely recommend having a peek at our other blogs on the subject!

And, as always, if you’re in the market for a contractor and want to experience the O&U way, just drop us an email a and we’d love to discuss your project with you.