Hiring a Contractor

It seems there is always something we could do to our home to add value. If you are not one for the “do it yourself” projects, here are some tips to help you hire the perfect contractor for your needs:

Ask for Referrals

  • Recommendations are always best. Friends and family will never guide you in the wrong direction so start by asking them for referrals. Other options include asking for recommendations from local lumber yards or building inspectors, both will be able to tell you who gets their work done on time and pays on schedule. If you prefer a more official method you can always contact the National Association of Remodeling Industry and they will provide a list of members in your location.

Conduct and Interview

  • Don’t hesitate to ask potential contractors questions you want answers to about their reliability, availability and what they will essentially be able to offer to your project:
    • What kind of projects do they typically take on?
    • Are they willing to provide financial references?
    • Do they have references you can contact?
    • Are you their only client or will they have several jobs they focus on at once?
Get Comfortable
  • Once you have selected two, three or even four contractors you are interested in, set a meeting with them to come to your home. Whomever you choose will be in your home for hours at a time so you want to make sure you are completely comfortable with that person. Regardless of the personality, check with the consumer protection agency and Better Business Bureau in your state, its better safe than sorry and you never can be too sure. This will ensure there isn’t a string of disputes with past clients.
Create a plan
  • Once you have done the background check on a few contractors you are interested in, put a plan together of everything you want done and ask for bids. In order to do this accurately, ask these select contractors to break down the cost of:
    • Materials
    • Labor
    • Profit Margins
    • Unexpected Expenses

In most cases, 40% of the total cost will be in materials.

  • The way a contractor asks for payment can speak measure about the way a contractor works. If a deposit of half the bid is asked up front that may be an indication of poor results once work is done therefore payment not being received or even financial issues. The typical job calls for 10% down at signing of the contract and three payments of 25 percent split throughout the time frame set for the project to be completed. The last 15 percent is paid when you are completely satisfied and the work is complete.
Choose Wisely
  • Think of what is guiding your decision in who you choose to be the contractor. Your ultimate goal is to be completely comfortable with who you choose and having confidence in them completing the job to your expectations. If this means choosing a little bit higher bid than the “other guy”, go for it! Comfort and confidence are well worth a little more money in the long run.
  • Put every detail of every step into a contract. You will want to include the expected payment schedule, insurance proof and workers compensation, start AND expected end date, materials being used etc. Its also important to add he must obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. The importance of this is to protect you in the instance he does not pay his bills. Try to emphasize while writing the contract with your contractor that the detail is to ensure the project is successful and has nothing to do with mistrust.
You can read this full article in “This Old House”

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