How to Find a Contractor
Finding a qualified professional contractor for a home improvement project doesn't have to be a difficult task. By following the guidelines stated below, you will help ensure that the selection process is easier and that you are prepared to make an informed decision.
Everyone has heard horror stories of contactor projects gone wrong. There are many contractors dedicated to the highest standards and committed to the success of individual projects. Finding a qualified professional contractor for a home improvement project doesn’t have to be a difficult task. By following the guidelines stated below, you will help ensure that the selection process is easier and that you are prepared to make an informed decision.
Where to Find a Contractor:
o Get referrals from friends and family. They are the best place to start because they will give honest feedback about the contractor’s performance. Before rushing into a job, make sure the referred company has experience with the project. For example, some contractors may be experts in kitchens and baths but lack experience in building new additions.
o Use online resources that provide certifications and references from previous jobs. Also, contractors listed with online sites show that they take pride in their business
o Ask for referrals from engineers and architects. They work with contractors everyday and know the industry very well.
o Source multiple bids. It is always a good idea to speak to as many contractors as possible. This will not only help you find the best person for the job, but will also ensure that you are being charged appropriately.
o Avoid using the yellow pages and bulletin board ads.
What to Ask For:
o When you think you have found a good contractor, ask for their credentials. They should be bonded and insured (general liability and worker’s compensation). Ask for the name of their insurance agency, look up the number yourself, call the insurer and ask for a copy of the Certificate of Insurance.
o Ask for the contractor’s portfolio and references. Keep in mind that a contractor will probably only show you their favorable work and comments.
o Call the local Better Business Bureau and make sure no complaints have been filed against the contractor.
o Find out how long the contractor has been in business and how long they have worked with their crew.
o Find out if the contractor will be working on simultaneous projects. If working on multiple jobs, will they be able to devote enough time to your project.
When Starting Negotiations:
o Begin by making a list of projects that need to be completed. Then do research online to find out the average cost of that job. Make sure the jobs done fit into your budget and make allowances for unforeseen situations.
o Create and sign a contract. Make sure to include the following:
 Completion date. Some contractors do not like completion dates because weather can be unpredictable. Take into consideration their concerns and come up with a reasonable completion date.
 Budget: be sure to take into consideration overages that might occur due to unforeseen situations.
 Negotiate terms, for example: 30 percent up front, 40 percent due at mid point, 20 percent due upon completion, and 10 percent due upon inspection.
o Federal law requires a contractor to give you written notice of your right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
o You may also want to consider a binding arbitrations clause, which may enable you to resolve disputes without litigation.
o Also consider a warranty, which may cover materials and workmanship. The warranty must be identified as either “full” or “limited.” You must include the name or the party that will insure the warranty, as well as, the period of time the warranty is guaranteed.
Remodeling your home should be an enjoyable experience. Make sure you follow the steps above, leverage online resources that certify online contactors, and ensure that they are experts in their field.