Hiring a contractor can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a major renovation. Use the following guidelines to help you hire the right person and tackle any project around the home.
Get referrals. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for the names of contractors or trades professionals they’ve used and make a list of companies that serve your area. I work with reputable contractors and other professionals in our local area— so give me a call for a referral.
Get in touch. Once you have a list of companies, call them and ask if they specialize in your type of project. Ask how many other projects they’re managing at the moment, as this may impact when they can begin working on your renovation.
Research your options. Review the reputation of the companies on your list. Check online consumer review sites and if possible, call previous clients and ask specific questions pertaining to their experience with the company. Schedule a time with each company to preview their work so that you feel comfortable with the quality.
Verify that the companies you are considering are licensed and insured. In most states, all major remodeling projects must be done by a licensed contractor. Be aware that if you use an unlicensed contractor, you may be responsible for any work that isn’t done to code or any injuries that occur on the job.
Meet the contractors in person. Meeting face-to-face not only allows you to ask more questions, it also provides insight into the contractor’s communication style, character and attention to detail in the way they present themselves and their company. Since you’ll be working closely with the contractor and team, you’ll want to make sure you trust them.
Get estimates. Ask the companies on your list for an estimate and have them break down the costs, including materials, labor and expenses. When you review the estimates, keep in mind that materials alone tend to make up about 40 percent of the total cost. Use the estimates as a guide and choose the contractor with the best reputation who you feel the most comfortable with.
Sort out the details before work begins.
Payment: If your project is large, you may be required to pay 10 percent upon signing the contract, followed by three milestone payments of 25 percent over the duration of the project. The final 15 percent is often due upon completion of the project. Use the milestone payments as a time to review the project’s status and ensure your expectations are being met.
Time: If you’d like the work to be done during a particular window of time or have other requests, discuss them with the contractor beforehand.
Expectations: Understand what the contractor expects from you. For example, do you need to clear the room before work begins? Will you need to board your pet?
Get everything in writing: The contract should include a payment schedule, proof of insurance (liability and workers’ compensation), start and completion dates and lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers, which is obtained by the contractor. The contract should also include:
- A detailed description of the project, explaining the materials to be used and what is being subcontracted. Keep in mind, the description will not cover any unexpected work uncovered during the renovation.
- All building permits that will be obtained by the contractor and reassurance that the work will be compliant with current building codes.
- A statement of warranties, including what is covered and for how long.
- Price and terms of payment.
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