How to Choose the Right Contractor for Your Home Project
August 22nd, 2012
August 22nd, 2012
Have you ever seen the HGTV show, Holmes on Homes? In the show, Canadian contractor Mike Holmes meets with homeowners and uncovers the “sloppy, dangerous and even illegal home renovations” that contractors have made to these people’s homes. Then Mike and his crew “Make It Right,” by repairing all the problem areas beyond the homeowners’ expectations. During the show, Mike also shares his tips on how homeowners should manage a renovation and what they should look out for during home repairs.
After watching the show for several seasons, it’s no wonder that Mike Holmes is known as Canada’s most trusted contractor. But, if you’re having renovations done on your home here in the U.S., how do you find a trusted, experienced contractor in your area?
Here are some tips for finding a professional contractor for your home project.
Ask your family and friends for names of contractors they have worked with. Contact the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and/or the Better Business Bureau for a list of members in your area. Talk with building inspectors who know which contractors comply with code requirements.
Interview Each Contractor
Start with an initial phone call to obtain basic information to determine their expertise, availability and reliability. Ask questions like:
Once you’re narrowed your list down to three or four contactors, then you need to meet them in-person to talk about the job in more detail and to get estimates. Make sure the contactor answers your questions to your satisfaction. It’s crucial that you feel comfortable with this person and are able to communicate well with them.
Check Out Their References
Ask for the contractor’s license number and make sure they have a license to work in your area. Also, ensure they are bonded and get proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation. Contact your local Better Business Bureau and your state’s consumer protection agency to see if the contactor has a history of customer or subcontractor disputes. Call former clients to find out how their renovation projects went. Ask them if you can see the contractor’s work. Also, visit current job sites to see how the project is being handled.
Get 3 to 4 Bids
Obtain a complete set of blueprints for your job. Provide each contactor with the same set of plans and specifications for the job. Ask each contractor to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Review each bid carefully. Don’t automatically go with the lowest bid since the contractor may be cutting corners. Overall, choose a contractor that you’re comfortable with and can work well with them.
Draw Up a Contract
Get all the details of the project in writing, including the payment schedule; start date; projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; allowances if any; and costs. Require the contractor to obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. Make sure you understand about Mechanic’s liens in your area and what you are liable for.
By following these guidelines, you can avoid choosing the wrong contractor which may lead to delays, subpar work or legal problems.
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