When you are hiring a contractor, you are paying for a service rather than a product. The quality of service the contractor provides will determine the outcome of the finish project and your satisfaction with the result. Here are some guides to help you hire a contractor.
- Outline what you want to have done for your home. Think of your remodeling project through from start to finish. Give thought to details such as where you want extra electrical outlets, where to place windows for optimum light, and the current and future storage needs. These details will enable your remodel to better suit your needs and lifestyle. Write down exactly what you want the contractor to do.
- Get recommendations locally from family, friends, neighbors, local trade associations such as your local home builder association and local Remodel counsel. Local hardware and home improvement stores are often make recommendations or give you the name of builder they respect. Talk with family and friends who have use the contractor whose work you admire. Find out if they were satisfied with the work, the price, the time it took to complete the job, and whether they had a good overall experience with the contractor. Ask if they would use the contractor again.
- Check out your references. Once you have a list of names, do research on them. The Better Business Bureau and local consumer protection agency can help you find out if there have been any compliant filed against a contractor or the company. Check with your state licensing agency to see if the contractor you are interested in meets all requirements to be licensed. Although licensing doesn’t guarantee liability, it is a minimum qualification a contractor should have. Ask for proof that they are licensed, bonded, and covered by Workman’s Compensation and liability insurance. You should always verify this information by calling the agencies. A copy of an insurance certificate doesn’t let you know if the policy is still current. Check them out to make sure that the contractors and the companies are financially sound.
- Compare contractors. Interview the contractor to make sure they do the type of work you are interested in or a similar kind of project and how long they have been in business. Is your communication with the contractor easy? Let your intuition be your guide. If you don’t have a good rapport now, imagine how difficult it would be when you have to deal with him or her over a crisis during renovation.
- Get estimates. Meet with at least three contractors to discuss your project you want done. Be honest with your budget and about how much you want to spend. Estimates should details the type of materials to be used, the labor charges, the start and finish dates, and the total cost. Be sure they are bidding on the same work order and requirement. Be aware of any bid that deviates from the norms.
- Put it in writing. Make sure that everything you agreed to is in writing. A clear, well written and detailed contract is very important. Understand everything before you sign; never sign a contract with any blanks; and get a copy of everything you signed. You can cancel a contract by sending a letter to the contractor within 3 business day if the contract was signed in your home or somewhere other than the contractor’s permanent place of business.
Don’t pay the final installment until all the work is complete. Before you pay your final payment, get a written statement that the contractor has paid all of the subcontractors and suppliers. And also make sure that you and any necessary local building inspectors have inspected the work and signed off. New work should come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials in writing. However, warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failures to do required maintenance, your contractors should provide a booklet explaining common up keep responsibilities and show you how to perform them.