Want to install some windows on the north side of your home to let in more light? Build more living space to accommodate your growing family? Update your kitchen before you put your home on the market? Make other improvements to your home?
YES? Then you need a home contractor.
Take A Survey
Start looking for a contractor by talking to friends and neighbors who have had home improvements done recently. Would they recommend the contractors they used?
Find out about the quality of each tradesman's work and his work habits. Ask:
- Did the contractor begin and end on time?
- Did the contractor try to minimize disruption of your family? How?
- How would you rate the contractor both on technical expertise and finished appearance of the project?
- Did the contractor work neatly and clean up at the end of the each workday?
You can research your project by reading do-it-yourself magazines and manuals, so you have a grasp of the work involved. Then invite at least three contractors to bid on your project. As you talk through the proposed improvement, ask what special problems could arise and how the contractor would resolve them. If a contractor is vague or dismiss your question, keep looking.
Pay For Quality
When adding rooms, rearranging the kitchen, moving walls or performing other major improvements, spend the extra money for a design professional. Be sure anyone who works on your house is licensed and insured. Don't automatically go with the lowest bidder. You may get a better result or better materials when you pay a little more.
Get It In Writing
Write the contract to include exactly what the project will entail, how much it will cost, and what points payments will be made. Make sure the contract specifies the quality of materials to be used, beginning and ending dates, sanctions for tardiness, and how changes in plans will be handled. Keep on top of the project, checking progress and the quality of workmanship. If you are unhappy with something, talk to the contractor immediately.
Make sure all changes from the original contract are made in writing. Make all complaints, suggestions and compliments to the boss.
If possible, have your chosen contractor do a small job first, so you can verify the quality of work before you become mired in a more-complicated job. You'll also get an idea what it's like to work with the contractor-whether he's responsive to your questions, concerns and suggestions.
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