Anytime you need work done on your home that’s above your do-it-yourself skills, you need to hire a contractor, and that can be a tricky proposition. After all, choosing the right contractor for your remodeling job can mean the difference between having a dream renovation or enduring a botched, expensive, and ongoing nightmare. Your homeowners insurance is there to protect you from damage to your home due to unexpected events, but hiring a bad contractor can put you in a position that leaves you unprotected and in the cold.
That’s why, finding the best contractor for the job is so important to the success of your project. For any remodel, you expect your contractor to show up on time and complete the work on time. Furthermore, you want him to use the right materials and stick to the price quote he gave your prior to starting the job. Seems easy enough but, because of bad contractors, one can’t assume anything until the entire job is done.
If you’re planning a renovation and don’t have a contractor you can trust, here are a few simple guidelines to assist you in your search.
1. Consult as many sources as possible
• Don’t pick the first guy that comes along.
• Talk to family, friends, and neighbors and ask if they know of a good contractor who may have done past work for them.
• Consult local lumber yards or stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Since they deal with contractors on a daily basis, they may be able to refer one.
• The Internet can be helpful, but same here…don’t be impressed with a website or believe everything you read. Stick to Angie’s List™ and the Better Business Bureau®.
• Obtain a list of licensed contractors in your area from the Contractor’s Board or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
2. Ask for credentials and work history
It’s your money, your home…and, that makes you the boss. Don’t be intimidated. Consider they have the following before making a decision:
• At least 7 years of experience.
• Are currently licensed and bonded in your state.
• An excellent work record and reputation and have no derogatory comments with the BBB or Contractor’s Board.
• Liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
• No court records of lawsuits, liens, complaints or evidence of a past suspended license with the state licensing bureau.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you’re a novice at hiring a contractor, don’t hesitate to ask questions you feel are important to you and getting the job done right. There are people who claim to be contractors but, unfortunately, they end up being scammers who do shoddy work at best and take your money. So prepare yourself with questions such as the ones below:
• How long have you been doing renovations/remodeling in my area? (Request a list of references and subcontractors)
• Who are your main suppliers? (Verify by talking to the suppliers)
• Are you equipped for a project this size? (Nothing too large or too small).
• Are you currently involved in other projects? (Too many projects mean he may be spreading himself too thin, leading to possible cost over-runs and delays in completing the job).
• Can you show me pictures of completed projects? (Get reference numbers and call these people. Find out firsthand if they are satisfied with his work and if they would use him again).
4. Get multiple bids
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search, you’re ready to accept bids. Give them your designated specs, what you expect, and all the blueprints, list of materials you want used for the remodel. Let them do a walkthrough and explain what they plan to do. Then ask for a bid and cost breakdown. Also, pin down the planned completion date. Don’t necessarily take the lowest bid. You may be disappointed.
5. Cost breakdown and payment schedule
Don’t take anything for granted. Remember, it’s your money. Know exactly what you’re paying for. Get an itemized list of expenses, materials, fixtures, and labor. Agree on attainable project milestones with payment schedule as follows:
• 10% down at contract signing
• 3 payments of 25% spread out over course of project
• 15% upon completion of project
6. Read and review the contract before signing
• Once you feel comfortable you’ve made the right choice, before signing the contract, you may want to have a lawyer review it as well.
• Make sure everything is spelled out.
• If satisfied – sign the contract and ask for a copy.
Even after all your research, you’re still dealing with the unknown when it comes to contractors.
Don’t deal with the unknown when it comes to insuring your home. Make sure you’re getting the best rate on your homeowners insurance. Why not get a free homeowners insurance quote today?
Have you ever had a contractor nightmare? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.