Hiring a contractor is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Ask friends or family for references when searching for a contractor. This is the easiest way to start the vetting process. Don’t select a contractor just because they are the lowest price. Although cost is a big factor, so is peace of mind! Finding a reputable contractor can make a big difference.
Determine the type of contractor you need for the project
General Contractor – medium-sized projects that doesn’t include any structural changes to your home.
Specialized Contractor – smaller specific projects, such as cabinetry or bathroom fixtures.
Architect – a large project that will need structural changes.
Designer – specialized to use space efficiently and determine a client’s specific needs, lifestyles, priorities and budget to design custom rooms, additions or the entire risk
Ask yourself these questions to hire a contractor you can trust
- Don’t sign any document until you fully review it. If you are hiring a contractor for a home insurance related loss, be careful of Assignment of Benefits (AOB) abuse! When you sign an AOB document from a contractor, you are handing over all of your rights under your insurance policy to recover costs directly to the contractor.
- Are they Licensed and Insured? – It is important for the contractor to be fully insured and licensed. General liability insurance protects your home from damages of the contractor, employees or any sub-contractors. Workers compensation insurance protects you from liability in the event a worker is injured on the job. Make sure you have them furnish you a copy of their insurance and license for verification.
- Do they have references? – A good contractor should be more than willing to provide past references. Reach out to a few past clients to see how satisfied they were with the contractor’s work. You can also check online for reviews such as the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List or website testimonials to see if they are worth hiring.
- Do they provide detailed contracts? – Make sure all aspects of the project are laid out in a formal contract. The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get everything spelled out exactly what the contractor will and will not do. Before signing, carefully review every line of the contract and make sure you understand everything.
- Is the Deposit and Payment Plan clearly stated? – make sure the deposit you put down and total price of the project with a payment schedule is clearly written in the contract. Never pay in cash! That is usually a sign of a scammer.
- Is the schedule going to be completed in a realistic time frame? – Ensure the contract has the start date, milestones and end date. Of course, things might come up during renovation which might change the schedule but be sure if something like that happens they outline a new time frame.
Make sure to keep copies of everything during and after the renovation in case you need anything to reference in the future. If you’re looking to get started on a project, don’t let the process of finding a contractor slow you down. By asking yourself these questions you will be able to make a smart decision when hiring!