you Are finally ready to tackle the home improvement projects that are on your mind? Is the tile floor or painting that garage a little out of your league? Or maybe you don’t have the time or energy to finish it yourself. If this is the case, then you’re probably wondering how to find a good contractor.
horror stories abound about contractors who never finish the job. Or even worse, they finish the work so badly that it costs to repair the damage is much greater than what you originally agreed to pay. How can you avoid getting taken for an emotionally and financially costly ride?
First, decide what kind of contractor you want to hire. You will be there to supervise the work? If this is the case, then hiring the young man down the block who comes out a shingle as a contractor might not be a bad idea. Or, if you’re a little more confident, you can hire someone down-and-looking for work. Just keep in mind that when you hire this type of contractor you are essentially stepping into the role of employer. In accordance with the laws of your city and state, you may also be subject to certain legal responsibilities. You can be liable if a person gets injured on the job, for example.
If you are not willing to monitor, then you need to know how to read contractor’s ads. You can find these ads in the yellow pages, the classified section of the newspaper, online on sites such as Craig’s List, and at lumber yards or home improvement stores. (Lumber yards and stores will usually decline to recommend a contractor to you. They do not want to be responsible for their results. But often helps entrepreneurs to send business cards.) Keep in mind that the people making these ads may be too new to the business and inexperienced to live up to the promises in their ads.
search for ads that mention how long this person or company has been in the industry. If they have been in business in your area for a long time, then chances are, they have some satisfied customers. Always make sure that the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured. Most importantly, follow up. Call the city or county to make sure that the contractor has a license and bond are up to date. Ask the contractor to have his insurance company send you a proof of insurance. Most of the people know ask: “Are you licensed, bonded and insured?”, but few will follow up to ensure that the information provided is accurate.
call your local department. If the contractor has been in your area long, the building department will at least have heard of him or her. If they do not, then the person probably not licensed, bonded and insured, or at least not pull a permit.
References from people you know who have been pleased with the work I have done is a great way to choose a contractor. Most contractors will provide references, but since we hand-picked these references themselves, that they, of course, inclined to the contractor. Take them with a grain of salt, but the follow-up. Some people will still give you good information. Question:
If the work has been completed in a satisfactory manner.
If the contractor showed up when he/she said he/she will
If the contractor is called before it is too late.
If the contractor was easy to manage when the questions came up
How long the work took
As a client, you will want the job done as quickly as possible. Just keep in mind that many of the independent contractors, and are used to make their own schedules. It may well be worth putting up with temporary inconveniences to have a job done professionally and with precision. Communication is key, however.
You can also learn a lot about contractors when they come to your home to give you an estimate. Ask the person if he or she is the one who will do the actual work. This person is a contractor, a representative or a seller? Will work be outsourced? Find out who is you, the customer, will talk to when you have questions or problems. And keep in mind that some contractors are better at sales than they are in employment.
the contractor’s tender will also tell you a lot about him or her. How was it that this contractor charged for the work to be done: – on the hour, an approximate value covering all work, or in a number of areas? Some contractors, especially plumbers and electricians to make repairs, charge by the hour. You have no way to know what the total cost will be, so ask for a “cap” or maximum amount that you are willing to spend, in writing. You don’t want to pay for other work, such as painting or carpentry, per hour.
An approximate number is better, but make sure that information about what work will be done to the amount of money that is written. Do not assume that something will be included unless your contractor specifically tells you so-and writes it down. An unscrupulous contractor can promise you the world, but if you don’t have it in writing, you have not a leg to stand on.
A detail bid creates the least confusion, and also allows you to choose from. You and your contractor should also discuss, and have in writing, the contractor will be paid. When it comes to paying a contractor for a medium-sized job (a kitchen, bathroom or renovate the basement, for example), give the contractor one quarter to one third of the total amount. If the job is progressing, follow that up with weekly installments (including materials, which are generally charged separately). Keep at least $ 500 to $ 1000 until the job is completely finished. Beware of any company that wants to be paid the total amount.
Hiring a contractor doesn’t need to be scary, so long as you have done a bit of homework, it is worth your time. Your home is your most important investment. Treat it with the respect it deserves.