How to Hire A Contractor – Design Dilemma | Home Design Find

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How to Hire A Contractor – Design Dilemma

remodel your own home how to tips advice

There are good contractors and bad contractors. A friend of ours hired a bad contractor who was recommended by another workman on his property. After a very sloppy job, many absences, and a long delay on the project, the story ended sadly —  in a wrestling match and a court date.

However, your own experience with a contractor need not end so badly.  All you need to do is tread carefully and use a little common sense.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring a contractor for your spring remodeling project:

1) Get multiple quotes. This is always the first rule when looking to hire someone to do work in your home. Why are multiple quotes good? Not only will you get a much better sense of what the actual price range is for your job but you’re apt to learn a few things too.  For instance, one contractor may bring up the need for a detail you hadn’t considered before when talking to the others. Or perhaps another will have a new idea about how to approach your job that may be more cost-effective.

2) Interview, interview, interview. This is really just a continuation of number one. When you talk to contractors, you’re not asking only about price. You’re asking how they would approach the job, if they have done jobs of this sort before, what kind of materials they would use, how long they expect the project to take, whether they are bonded and insured and how many other projects will they be juggling at the same time.  An interview will also allow you to use your intuition. Does this contractor seem trustworthy? Knowledgeable?  You may ultimately decide not to go with the lowest bidder because you can instantly see that a particular contractor has a superior knowledge and working method.

3) Get recommendations and references. Okay, so this didn’t work out for our friend who hired a painter based on a recommendation of a carpenter working on his property. On the other hand, it’s probably best to get recommendations from friends and disinterested parties, rather  than anyone performing work on your house. Wherever you get the recommendation from, ask the potential contractor for at least three references and call all of them. When you talk to the references, ask not only about the quality of the work done but of the work ethic of the worker.

4) Check out helpful websites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. You can get a very good idea about a contractor based on references in sites like these. And if there have been problems, the Better Business Bureau might have information on a contractor with a bad record.

5) Get it in writing. When a contractor is giving you an estimate, have the contractor write down all aspects of what the job will take and what he plans on charging. If you agree to work with a contractor, draw up a written contract and make sure you both sign it. In your contract, be sure that you have a written start and end date. Part of what will be in your contract is whether your contractor is working on a flat rate or by the hour. When possible, opt for the flat rate so you won’t be surprised by costs running far overbudget.

6) Never pay up front. It’s a classic mistake. You hand over a check to a contractor before the job is done and the contractor disappears. Avoid that problem by either splitting the payment in half (one payment up front, the balance on completion of the job) or by paying in regular increments. Never pay in full at the beginning of a project.

7) Ask for a contractor’s license. This is a step that is easily overlooked by those willing to trust. However, not all contractors are true contractors. Some are simply handymen who are not licensed and may not know local building codes. While a handyman may be fine for simple jobs in your home, you would probably avoid using a handyman for a more complicated remodeling job.

8.) Check in frequently. Contractors work best when they know you are an interested and involved party who wants the work done. So stop by frequently to check on the progress of your job. Checking in also will give you an opportunity to catch any mistakes before they happen and to answer questions.

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