Finding the Right Contractor
Tips to Make the Remodeling Process Easier
September 8, 2014
Owning your own home can be a great experience. But it also can be a costly one, especially when you need to make repairs. If you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of person, then you’ll probably need to get a contractor to help with the work—and here are a few tips that might help you in finding the right person for the job.
Friends and family are always a good place to start with getting some options to contact. But don’t just stop there—also make sure to ask the contractors you speak with for a list of references, and be sure to actually check them. You’ll also want to check the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has had complaints and, if so, how they were resolved. After all, having a few unsatisfied customers is pretty normal for any business; it’s how a business solves those complaints that shows its integrity and dedication to making things right.
Licensed, bonded, and insured
These are a must for any contractor! Being licensed means they have taken courses that teach them the right things to do, and is even a requirement in some areas. (Check your locale’s building codes to see what they require.) And if the contractor doing the work on your home isn’t insured and someone gets injured, you’ll likely be held liable. Whether or not it was your fault is irrelevant in most cases, too, so this is one you’ll really want to check.
Some contactors might have a lot of experience with making a few changes to older homes, while others are more into complete overhauls. Ask the contractors with whom you speak about their strengths, and make sure to choose one who is familiar with the work you want done.
If a contractor demands full payment before work has started, walk—or even run—away. In most cases, it is normal to pay part of the price as a down payment, with additional payments being made as the contractor reaches certain milestones. While it shouldn’t be “pay as you go” (e.g., paying each day for the cost of labor and materials), having some sort of plan set is important to ensure the contractor finishes the job. You might also negotiate the last payment (say, 15% of the total) being sent a month or two after the work is completed—that way if something is wrong, the contractor has an incentive to come fix it.
Get a contract
While they are not exactly inspired reading, a thorough and detailed contract can go a long way to preventing issues, and even longer in solving any that arise. Again, make sure it is as detailed as you can get it, including how much everything will cost, when the work will be done, and how contingencies are handled (e.g., what happens when you have costs that go over budget, something that will occur during almost every remodel).
Basically, a lien is something that anyone who worked on or supplied materials for your project can use to ensure they get paid. It is placed against your home (or other asset) and states that, if you do not pay it before you sell the asset, the payment will come out when you do sell it. This can even happen if you paid the contractor, but the contractor failed to pay a supplier (e.g., a lumberyard). The laws that govern how liens work varies by state, so consult with a lawyer if one is placed against your home.
Remodeling your home can be very stressful, time consuming, and expensive, but playing it smart and getting a good contractor will make the process much more enjoyable.