Finding a contractor - the team who will turn your dream into
reality - is a real challenge. It requires research, interviewing, negotiation
and yards of documentation. You need to be patient during the process. But most of all you need to be
knowledgeable. To help you find a reliable, ethical contractor, and not a fast buck
artist, we make the following suggestions:
Seek Out Those Who Know How To Choose A Contractor
Get contractor recommendations from architects, building inspectors, bank
mortgage officers, your town's newspaper real estate editor, and from friends
and relatives who have recently remodeled. Obtain at least three sources.
Finding A Contractor That Stands Behind Their Work
Sometimes the true test of a contractor comes not during the construction of your home improvement, but after. True professional contractors stand behind their work - when their crew is on site and when their work is finished. Finding a contractor that will stand behind their work is not reallt that hard to do if the contractor performs quality work.
Understand Every Stroke Of The Contract
Study this document as if your entire project depends on it. Because it does.
Study the financial details carefully. Pay special attention to total price,
payment schedule and any penalties that may be brought against you. The contract
should describe every part of the job, including the start date, product
specifications (brand model, color, quantity, size) , warranties, workmanship
and a completion date. It should also make provisions for changes during the
construction, uncontrollable delays and clean-up. A contractor legally seals the
deal, so only sign a complete and acceptable contract.
Ask To See Samples Of The Contractor's Work
Sit down with each candidate (in your home) and discuss your project. If you've
sketched a plan, present it. Share information about your tastes and life-style,
and talk in general about your remodeling ideas. Ask to see a photo portfolio
showing examples of work that the contractor has done. The best contractors will show their
portfolio without being asked.
The Contractor is Responsible for the Details!
The contractor is responsible for obtaining all the building permits and for
meeting all building codes and ordinances. Separate permits may be required for
electrical, heating and plumbing work. The contractor is also responsible for
calling the building department and scheduling periodic inspections. This is
crucial. Because inspectors usually have the absolute authority to order work
dismantled if it's not done to code or without permit.
What Picture Does Their Reputation Paint?
Find out as much as you can about each contractor's credentials. Contact the better business
bureau or your government consumer affairs office for information on the
contractor. Ask the candidate for references. Narrow your list of choices down
by requesting both liability and workers
compensation insurance certificates. Last but not least, ask
yourself whether each candidate is someone you'd really enjoy working with. Then
make your decision.
Get References After Your Find A Contractor
Make sure to check the referencs of the contractor. Call them to verify their past customer had a good experience and that work was done to thier satisfaction.
How To Handle Down Payments
If the contractor requires a down payment, first, do the items above. Most
contractors will require a down payment so they are not financing your job. Only
give enough money down to do the work in phases. This way you can see the
quality of work before you get to far into the contract. Most contractors will abide by this rule if they are legitimate. They should understand that neither of you have ever met and trust has to be built during the process.