7 Tips for Hiring a Responsible Contractor
A renovation project is a great way to give your home a fresh look. But whether you are thinking about remodeling the kitchen or getting a new a roof, you want to make sure you hire the best contractor for the job. Not taking the time to hire the right contractor can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems.
Depending on the project, this contractor could be in your home for days, weeks or even months. You want to make sure you hire someone trustworthy and responsible.
Here are some tips to help you find the right contractor for your project:
- Plan your project: First decide what you want done. Find pictures in magazines or online to help you have a clear idea of your project. ServiceRunner.com, an online service that connects consumers with local home improvement pros, recommends that homeowners be very descriptive when creating plans. For example, it says, “if it’s a painting job, a simple thing you would need to know [is] if you’re bringing paint or not. Is primer involved? About how big is the space[?]“
- Get recommendations: Family and friends can be a great starting point when looking to hire a contractor. Reading reviews online is another great resource. Doing some research upfront can help you whittle down your candidates before you even talk to them.
- Interview contractors: After you have a list of potential contractors, you’ll want to interview them. Preliminary interviews can be done over the phone, but once you narrow it down to 2 or 3 you may want to meet the candidates in person. Make sure you are prepared for the meetings; it’s a good idea to write your questions and concerns ahead of time.
- Check that the contractor is licensed and insured: If you find out the contractor you are courting doesn’t have a license or insurance, it’s a deal breaker. Otherwise, if a worker gets hurt on your property, you could be liable. You also could face trouble if the contractor or its employees create an unsafe situation and someone else gets hurt. Make sure you get the contractor’s license number and see proof of insurance. Check the effective dates of the coverage.
- Ask for references and check them: A good contractor should be able to give you the names of a few previous customers willing to vouch for his or her work. Check up by calling some of them. If a contractor doesn’t want to provide references, then that could be a warning sign.
- Look at work samples: After you’ve determined the contractor is legitimate and trustworthy, look firsthand at some of his or her work samples. This step will help you see the quality of their work. If you don’t like what you see, this likely isn’t the contractor for you.
- Draw up a contract: Lastly, seal the deal with a contract. Make sure the contract includes items such as a payment schedule, proof of insurance, a start date, a projected end date, specific materials and products to be used, and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you should your contractor have financial troubles) from all subcontractors and suppliers.
Before any work starts on your home, call your home insurance provider to notify it of the changes taking place. The new work could increase the value of your home, and you may have to adjust your policy to maintain proper coverage. Now also is a good time to review your policy and familiarize yourself with the coverage limits.