Deciding between contractors for kitchen+deck renovation

dreamojeanFebruary 26, 2013

I'm interested in feedback as to how to decide between contractors when more than one seems good but each have red flags of one sort or the other. In our case, one possible contractor would work on a time+materials basis and checks out wonderfully (the most references and I've seen his work in person), but this is a permitted deck+kitchen job and he doesn't do exteriors and doesn't want to be responsible for the deck part of the permit, so there are logistical issues (plus the extra legwork of separately contracting for exterior if he does the interior). Another is clearly knowledgeable and honest and our architect recommended him and he also checks out independently, but he is insisting on the window-to-door conversion being a big project, being built out from the inside (instead of the outside as we prefer, to preserve the trim), so we lose our trim and our symmetry along that wall of windows (and thus have to put the door off the kitchen instead of the dining room). A third is also clearly knowledgeable and innovative and honest but a bit more into line items and isn't someone anyone I know has ever used, he isn't on the local circuit (yet) but our trusted/beloved architect recommended him, and my gut isn't sure he is the right person for the job (but he might be). A fourth isn't as responsive and might be giving not-as-good advice on process, and has more other jobs going at once than the others, but he checks out with people I know and others I trust.

In our case, timing matters (we are in a 2 family house and re-orienting the layout so the rental is on the ground floor instead of the top floor, and have no tenant as of this week and need rental income, so that each week/month we delay choosing someone means lost rental income) - So getting more bids seems unnecessary here.

How do others go about deciding when they have at least 4 good candidates, but concerns about each? No one is perfect, so at some point is the right approach to get as much info as possible, weigh the pro's and con's, and jump?

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