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Tips for hiring a contractor

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Realty/Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT 30SA0872839 

Tips for hiring a contractor

 

Hiring a contractor for renovations or additions can be a critical step in ensuring your project is completed successfully. Here are some tips to help you find and hire a reliable contractor:

1. Define Your Project Scope

  • Detailed Plans: Have clear and detailed plans for what you want to achieve. This includes architectural drawings, a list of materials, and a timeline.
  • Budget: Establish a realistic budget for your project.

2. Research and Gather Recommendations

  • Referrals: Ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for recommendations.
  • Online Reviews: Check online reviews on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google.
  • Local Building Supply Stores: Sometimes, staff at these stores can recommend reputable contractors.

3. Verify Credentials

  • Licensing: Ensure the contractor has the appropriate licenses for your area.
  • Insurance: Verify that they have general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Certifications: Look for additional certifications or memberships in professional organizations (e.g., National Association of the Remodeling Industry).

4. Interview Multiple Contractors

  • Experience: Ask about their experience with similar projects.
  • References: Request references from past clients and follow up with them.
  • Project Management: Inquire about their project management style and how they handle scheduling and communication.

5. Get Detailed Estimates

  • Written Estimates: Obtain written estimates from at least three different contractors.
  • Breakdown of Costs: Ensure the estimates include a detailed breakdown of labor, materials, and other costs.
  • Timeline: Ask for an estimated timeline for the project completion.

6. Check Work History and Reputation

  • Past Projects: Visit past projects if possible, or request photos of completed work.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): Check their rating and any complaints lodged against them.

7. Review Contracts Thoroughly

  • Detailed Contract: Ensure the contract is detailed and includes the scope of work, payment schedule, timeline, and specific materials to be used.
  • Change Orders: Understand how change orders will be handled and documented.
  • Warranty: Ensure there is a warranty for the work performed.

8. Payment Terms

  • Payment Schedule: Avoid paying the full amount upfront. A typical schedule might include a deposit, progress payments, and a final payment upon completion.
  • Lien Waivers: Obtain lien waivers from the contractor and subcontractors to prevent claims against your property.

9. Maintain Communication

  • Regular Updates: Establish a communication plan with regular updates and site visits.
  • Point of Contact: Have a single point of contact to streamline communication.

10. Trust Your Instincts

  • Comfort Level: Choose a contractor you feel comfortable with and trust. Good rapport and clear communication are crucial.

Red Flags to Watch For

  • High-Pressure Tactics: Avoid contractors who use high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Unusually Low Bids: Be cautious of bids that are significantly lower than others; this could indicate cutting corners or hidden costs.
  • Lack of License/Insurance: Never hire a contractor without proper licensing and insurance.

By following these tips, you can increase the likelihood of a successful and stress-free renovation or addition project.