Picking a name at random is never a good idea, whether you’re looking for a new doctor or a home remodeling contractor. If you’re thinking about renovating your Northern Virginia home in the coming months, you’ll want to keep these factors in mind when evaluating contractors.

Information from Reviews and Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials offer valuable information about the contractor’s skill, worth ethic, reliability and ability to finish renovations within the projected timelines. Testimonials are featured on the contractor’s website and provided by satisfied customers, while reviews appear on independent sites such as Houzz, Yelp, Google or Angie’s List.

You’ll probably find that customers aren’t shy about posting both the positive and negative aspects of working with the contractor on these sites. Overwhelmingly negative comments are a bad sign obviously, but an occasional complaint shouldn’t disqualify a contractor, particularly if the reviewer seems to complain about relatively trivial matters.

Completed Projects

There’s no point in scheduling an appointment with a renovator if his or her work doesn’t meet your expectations. Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to tell if a contractor is a good candidate simply by taking a look at the photo gallery or portfolio section of the website. Does the contractor offer photographs of projects similar to yours? Are you impressed by the quality of the work?

If the renovator makes your short list, ask if you can visit one or two of his or her current projects. During the visit, you’ll get an up-close look at the renovation process and can determine if the portfolio photographs accurately reflect the quality of the work.

References from Previous Clients

Most home remodelers are happy to provide references from past clients. It’s a very bad sign if the renovator can’t or won’t offer contact information for a few satisfied homeowners. When you call or email the contractor’s clients, ask them if they:

  • Were happy with the results of the project
  • Felt that the renovation was completed in a reasonable timeframe
  • Were satisfied with the cleanliness of the job site
  • Received frequent updates during the remodeling process
  • Had any problems during or after the renovation
  • Would choose the renovator again
  • Have any advice they would like to share


Unlicensed contractors may be considerably less expensive than licensed renovators, at least initially. Unfortunately, choosing an unlicensed contractor can cost you money and cause plenty of headaches if the project doesn’t pass inspections.

A valid Virginia contractor’s license is required if your project is valued at $1,000 or more, according to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. You can check if a contractor’s license is valid by visiting the Board for Contractor’s website or by calling (804) 367-8511.

Are you ready to update your kitchen, expand your home or turn your basement in a game room? The remodeling professionals at Schroeder Design/Build can help you improve your enjoyment of your home and maximize its value. Contact us and let us know how we can help you.


Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation: What You Should Now Before You Hire a Contractor

Virginia Board for Contractors