With the tax return season nearing, some of you may be thinking of remodeling your home. Here are some tips on finding the right contractor and avoiding the less reputable ones. Before you open your phone book and start randomly calling contractors for estimates, it is best to start in your own home. Research what is involved in the project to gain a good idea of what you want changed and what it might entail. Maybe draw a sketch of the area and a layout of your ideas; this can also include photos and ideas from magazines or the internet. Now that you have a general idea, don’t go running for the phone book just yet. Ask your neighbors, family and friends if they could recommend someone to you, maybe someone they had work for them. Once you’ve done that, it’s finally time to pull out the phone book, but remember to narrow the list of contractors down to those whose field applies to your job. You should eliminate those who show up late for their appointment with you, seem disorganized or unsure, and refuse to provide references and licenses, or provide a price that is too good to be true.
Here are some questions to ask a potential contractor when going over the job details:
Q. How long have they been in business?
A. The longer the better.
Q. Are they willing to supply references for similar jobs?
A. Any refusal should stop you right there. If they do provide some be sure to check up on them.
Q. Are they members of the home builders association?
A. If they are, be sure to call your local association and check up on them.
Q. Are they licensed, insured and bonded?
A. Again if not you should stop there. If they are get a copy of the license numbers and check up on them at the home builders association.
Q. How often do they do the type of job you are looking for?
A. Avoid the contractors without extensive experience in the area you are looking for.
Q. When can they start?
A. A firm timeline is a must and it should fit your schedule as well.
Q. How long will the job take?
A. Again a firm timeline is always best and make sure to find out if there is a penalty if the job goes beyond the timeline.
Q. Will they provide a written detailed estimate?
A. Check it over and make sure there are no hidden or unneeded expenses.
Q. Will a contract be given for the job?
A. You should always obtain one and make sure to look it over.
Q. Do any changes have to be agreed in writing?
A. Make sure any changes MUST be approved by you.
Q. Is an advance required and how much?
A. This should be no more than 10-20%.
Q. Will any additional payments be required?
A. Make sure 10-20% of cost still remains at end of job and only pay final cost when job is completely finished.
Q. Will building permits be obtained by the contractor?
A. Nearly all projects will require a permit, mainly for inspection purposes.
Q. Will any needed Subcontractors be licensed and certified and who will be responsible for paying them?
A. Subcontractors are generally paid by the contractor, so make sure this is in the agreement and also make sure they are paid fully before you give final payment to contractor.
Q. Can the contract be terminated by you for a cause?
A. Make sure you have the ability to terminate the contract if it is not started on time, takes too long, not up to code with installations, or materials not approved by you are used.