Sometimes it is a good idea to appoint a professional rather than taking on your home improvement project yourself. But then, everyone has heard frightful stories about a home improvement disaster as choosing the wrong contractor can have very damaging results. Problems can vary from minor flaws like poor finishing to serious issues such as exorbitant fees, possible safety risks, non-compliance with statutory requirements, and sometimes the need for the work to be completely redone.
In reality, though, there are thousands of trustworthy and dependable contractors out there waiting to be hired. So, how do you go about making sure you hire a good one?
Here are 10 tips to help you hire a dependable contractor for your home improvement projects:
1. Look at the contractor’s portfolio of work
Ask the architect or the designer to show you a portfolio of some his past projects. Looking at work samples will allow you to have an idea about the quality of work and also about the creativity of the home designer. This will also give you an insight into the variety of work the contractor has done.
2. Request for references
It is important to ask the contractor for at least 3 recent references and to make sure that you follow up on them. Check these references out by asking them questions about their experience with that contractor. Did they give you the completed home project on time? Did they go off budget? Was the complete work up to the mark? The answers to these questions will help you in taking the right decision. Do not just appoint anyone who puts a flier in your mailbox and pretends to have done work for your neighbors!
3. Compare at least three quotes
Based on the same warranty, specifications, labor and time frame, you must examine and compare quotations from at least three different home improvement contractors.
4. Be clear about cost
In case of the contractor charging on per day basis you will need to agree to a timeframe to figure out the exact cost of the project. In many cases, though, the contractor charges a percentage of the total cost of the project as their fee. Have clear and detailed discussions with the contractor about the cost of the project. Whatever the method is, do not ever pay the full cost of the project up in advance. Agree to a payment plan and use a contract.
5. A Detailed Contract
Never allow work to commence without a signed and written contract. This contract should include aspects such as start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, brands of items being installed, complete set of drawings being used with written specs and warranty information. If everything is agreed upon in advance, there will be no ugly surprises.
6. Make Sure the Contractor has a License and Insurance
Having a license and insurance displays a contractor’s trustworthiness and expertise. The license proves that the contractors know building codes and processes. A license also reduces the risk to property owners of getting tricked. To be sure, get the contractor’s license number. If a contractor does not have insurance and a worker gets hurt on your project, you could be liable. To be on the safe side, it is important that you get proof of insurance.
7. Discuss Your Guidelines With The Contractor
Discuss your limits and expectations with the contractor. If you need to have the project completed before a certain date, do not want the workers staying past a certain time everyday or any other specific requirement, let the contractor know before you hire him. The contractor may not want or be able to accept the job based on your criterion.
8. Find out Who Will Be Performing the Work
You must check with the contractor if he will be doing the work himself or if it will be subcontracted to someone else. Major property remodeling projects often involve multiple subcontractors, such as electricians and plumbers. It is nice to know who will turn up on your doorstep. It all goes back to appointing a contractor you can count on because he is never going to put a bad subcontractor on your job.
9. Deposit & Payment
Never pay a deposit of more than 20% to 30% of the entire project cost. Final payment should only be done when the job is completed. Make payment by check and credit card and never by cash.
Get warranty information in writing on all products and installation. Read the particulars cautiously.