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Hiring a Contractor

Choosing the right contractor can make the difference between a successful home renovation project and a disaster. Here are some tips on hiring not just a contractor, but the right contractor.

1. Connect with your contractor

The right person for the job will be easy to talk to. Make sure you see eye to eye by hiring a contractor that understands your goals and has experience in the type of job you are looking for. Communication is key for all projects, so insist on regular contact by email, phone or text messages. Allow the work crew to manage their day-to-day work, but set up a weekly face-to-face update from the foreman.

2. Understand that price reflects quality

Ask your contractor for his or her recommendations on how the project should take place. In the long run, is it worth cutting corners for a temporary fix? The lowest bid is not always the best. Request a written description of the materials necessary for the job. A low bid may indicate that a contractor uses sub-par materials or is desperate for work. The more accurate bid is likely somewhere in the middle.

3. Know a contractor’s credentials

Abbreviations behind your contractor’s name can represent certifications from national trade organizations. These indicate that the company belongs to certain organizations that bind them to a strict code of ethics. Such memberships, titles and abbreviations include certified graduate remodeler (CGR), certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), local Building Industry Association membership (BIA) and National Association of Home Builders membership (NAHB).  Also, insist on hiring a licensed, bonded and insured contractor. This is a must. Otherwise, as the property owner you are liable if a member of the work crew gets injured on the job.

4. Get your home improvement contract in writing

Your contract should include: detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, project description, names of parties involved and how to handle additional costs if necessary. Be cautious; if you are not given a timeline for the job to be completed, this may indicate the contractor has several current jobs and may not complete your job in a timely manner. Keep track of all-important information as well by keeping job-related documents such as contracts, payments and receipts in one place.  Record key contact information for everyone working on your project.

5. Be upfront about your home improvement budget

If necessary, break the project down into multiple phases. Although this may increase the total cost due to repetitious start-up expenses and inflation, it may also be a better option for you to spread out the cost over time. Homeowners can often save money by doing somel tasks on their own, such as cleaning and painting.

6. Educate yourself about home improvement requirements

Know what permits are required and what regulations need to be followed for your remodeling project. Your contractor or architect should be responsible for applying for and acquiring all necessary permits. Don’t be passive, however; ask for information. Know what’s going on behind the scenes. The cost of the job will increase if the contractor is surprised by outdated wiring or other concealed budget busters.

7. Be prepared for home renovation

Before a job begins, make sure your home is prepared. That includes having an area where workers can store their tools, and sealing the site’s entry point.

•  Select your colors and finishes before the painter arrives to save time.

•  Review sample materials to make sure you are happy with them.

•  Don’t forget to make space for the crew. Allow them to keep their supplies and equipment on site. The more organized and accessible these items are, the faster they will be able to do their work.

Try to avoid any potential loss. Remove any valuables or easily damaged items from the work site.

•  Prevent dust accumulation by sealing the entry point with plastic sheeting and blue painter’s tape.

•  Finally, have a “go-to-guy.” Pick someone to be the key contact between the contractor and the family. This will help keep communication clean and clear to avoid confusion.

 

 

For more information go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0242-hiring-contractor