Whether you are preparing to sell your home or just improve it for your own enjoyment, use caution when hiring a contractor.
- Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured and always ask for references. If possible, especially on major repairs and renovations, call a couple of the people who have used the contractor and be certain they were happy.
- Don't rush into signing a contract with the first person you meet with. Although you want to get started as soon as possible, get more than one estimate.
- Make sure that everything is in writing including a detailed description of what the project includes, such as the estimated total cost, a schedule of how payments are made, any guarantees or warranties that are provided and make sure that all the blank lines on the contract are either filled in or marked through before you sign it.
- NEVER pay a contractor in full or sign a certificate of completetion prior to the job being completed to your satisfaction
- If a contractor says he can save you money by not pulling some of the required permits, do not use him. The fines in most cases are large and often the completed work must be reversed, permits pulled and then the work done again. No reputable contractor will make such an offer.
One item that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the "AOB" or Assignment of Benefits. Many times, contractors, roofers and plumbers who are proceeding with repairs and restoration that may be covered by your homeowner insurance policy will ask you to agree to this. It allows them to act on your behalf and to be paid direclty by your insurance company. Most insurance companies recommend that you speak with them before signing an AOB so they can fully explain it to you and be sure you are protected.