How to Find a Good Contractor
A contractor hiring checklist is necessary if you are hiring a contractor for a home remodel job. This is so you are certain that they are experienced and can complete your job on time. This can be especially daunting if this is your first remodeling job and you are looking for a contractor.
Contractor Hiring Checklist
This checklist was created in order to help you throughout the entire process of choosing a contractor and it is also packed with questions to ask them and tips on how you can protect yourself throughout the entire process from start to finish.
Start with Referrals
Your very first step to find a good contractor is to start with referrals from family, friends and neighbors. You can also research professional organization’s directories to get references and reviews from past clients. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry is a wonderful resource to find a reputable remodelor in your area. The trustworthy businesses have reviews that you can find with a simple search on Yelp, Angie’s List or Google.
Another great way to find a contractor is to take down a contractor’s information from contacting them while on a job, research them online, and also visit their website. Also, note how many times you see the same contractor in one area in your community. If he is doing several jobs, then it is an indication that the consumers are satisfied with the work and people are happy to refer them.
Ask Specific Questions
A home remodel job is time consuming and costly. When it comes time to make sure your home is in good hands, you can never ask a perspective contractor too many questions. After you narrow down your list of prospective contractors, it is time to get to the nitty gritty of questions.
You need to make certain that a contractor has a proven track record and will be there if you need them in the future. You can figure this out by asking for proof of a business license, a bank letter and insurance certificates, supplier reference letters and customer references.
The specific questions to ask are as follows:
- How long have they been in business?
- Are they experienced in the exact type of work you need done?
- Are they licensed and insured to work in your area? Can they show proof of this?
- Will my project require a permit? If so, make sure they get all the appropriate permits before they begin any work.
- Can they give you a list of references?
- When can they start on your job?
- How do they ensure proper safety during the project?
Questions to ask the References
Be aware that all of the references that are provided to you for a contractor will be favorable or else they wouldn’t give them to you. Keeping that in mind, you’ll need to ask the hard questions that are more specific. Ask the references what they would have done differently in working with the contractor, what you should be prepared for and what they don’t like about them no matter how small.
Put Everything in Writing
You best avenue of protection when working with a contractor on any project, no matter the size, is to get everything in writing. This is one of the most important part of the contractor hiring checklist. It should be in the form of a contract that is in writing and dated. It should include all the items you expect from the job and include any guarantees or promises made to you verbally. The scope of work and the costs associated with it should be in the contract. It should have a detailed schedule of all the stages of your project with start and end dates. It should have an established payment schedule and a list of suppliers or subcontractors. You should have confirmed contact information and a permanent address on the contract as well as any licensing, insurance and all the necessary permits listed in the contract. If there are any consequences for missing deadlines, going over budget or defaulting on the agreement, then these also need to be in writing.
Look for Hidden Fees
It’s important to have a contract in writing with all of the details between the contractor and yourself, but you need a firm understanding of what is not in the contract. If contractor bids say “cost plus” or “time and material” for pricing models and don’t include a cap on the maximum budget, then there are hidden fees that can really add up. Also, be upfront with contractors so they know what your actual budget on your home remodeling job is and they can stick to it.
Get Multiple Bids
Keep in mind that the least expensive contractor is not always your best choice and in many cases the price reflects the level of quality workmanship. Get bids from a minimum of three contractors so you have a comparison point for what is reasonable to pay in your area.
Contractors That Rush to Start
As a homeowner, you should always be skeptical of contractors who are ready to work and can start your job immediately. That means they don’t have any current work and it can be an indication of why they are available. In addition, make certain that a contractor can answer all of your questions you ask very clearly, otherwise it could be a disaster if they don’t communicate well. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is and in the construction world, this is a definite reality.
The Big Red Flags
You should trust your instincts when you begin to work with a contractor. There are some definite red flags in the construction industry. Watch out for a contractor that refuses to provide a contract in writing and detailed, a request for you to pay in cash or to pay the entire cost upfront, the contractor not having a business address and a contractor who can’t show you a job permit-meaning they are not registered with the city. The biggest red flag is if they ark for a large deposit upfront. This likely means that they are behind on another project and they will use your deposit to fund another job. If you have any doubts at all, move on to another contractor.
This contractor hiring checklist can help you to make certain that you find an honest, reliable and solid contractor for your home remodeling job. It can also help you to know what should be in the contract and what shouldn’t so you don’t get ripped off in any manner.