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Tips to Hiring a Contractor

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.

April 6, 2016 / by / in
Building a House and Hiring a Qualified Contractor

It takes a team of experienced, talented, and creative professional to build a good home in today’s increasing complexity of construction process.  When you are ready to build your home, find a good team leader-an architect, a general contractor, or a builder that you feel comfortable to help you with your big project.  Here is a list to study before you begin making your dream home a reality.


  • Budget:  You need to have a clear mental picture of your home to come up with a budget.  Give yourself enough time to research home plans, make product decisions, and talk with your selected community boards regarding additional costs apply to your areas.  The square-foot cost estimate is a very broad, general number that should be used for guidance purposes.  The more accurate cost is obtained only after the house is designed and the construction bids are in.  Then shop around for the most favorable home loan for you.
  • A plan:  Great homes consist of more than clever details and well-chosen materials.  Hire a local architect to help you with the merits and drawbacks on your house plan in regards to your chosen site, its environment, and local building codes.
  • Select a builder:  Take extra care in hiring your builder.  Ask friends who have recently built homes in your area.  Get recommendations from local architects, experienced sub-contractors, or visit the recently finished homes around your areas that you admired.  Get at least three bids and each with at least three recent references.  Check to make sure the bids includes all of the work you have discussed.  Verify that your chosen contractor has at least $1 million in an up to date general liability insurance coverage.  Have a lawyer review the building contract document.
  • Construction:  If your home was designed by an architect, the fee usually includes regular on-site inspections by that architect or a qualified structural engineer.  If not, hire a third party home inspector to monitor your home’s progress.  He or she is more likely to detect problems earlier than you would and take corrective action.  Before you hand your builder that last check for your home, do a final walk through with your builder.  Take your time and your flashlight to look above, below, and behind everywhere you and your flashlight can reach.  Make a punch list of items that must be attended to before the work is considered complete.  With the extra care in using the right professionals who know the terrain literally (site restrictions and water run-off, etc.) and figuratively (regulatory local board concerns), you are most likely to receive the house keys and are ready to move into your new home.


Building your home is an exciting time.  Do your homework and be sure to do it right; the reward will be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.

April 4, 2016 / by / in