When you are going to hire a contractor for your home project you’ll need to know a few things before hand. By knowing these tips this will help alleviate the headaches that a wrong contractor will bring.
Tips To Know When Hiring A Contractor
Once you begin your search for a contractor expect a very large pool to choose from. You’ll need to narrow these options down to best select the contractor that best suits your needs.
Find the contractors
Most contractors’ jobs are found by word-of-mouth. So, ask your family and friends if they have any recommendations, and then we’d suggest a visit to National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Another option, which will take some sleuthing skills, is to visit your local hardware store and ask which contractors they regularly see and which ones pay the bills on time and buy quality products.
Once you’ve compiled your list, now it’s time to ask the hardball questions.
- Do they take on projects of your size?
- Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
- Can they give you a list of previous clients?
- How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
- How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
From the answers you can get an idea of how the contractor works and if it meshes with your standards.
Meet The Contractors
Now that you’ve narrowed your potential hires, set up a meeting with them. Face-to-face meetings will give you a clear view into their work habits. You’ll also get to experience if you feel comfortable with them being around you and your family (they’ll be at your home for several hours a day). It’s important to have that gut feeling, but it is also to run a quick background check in Better Business Bureau or your state’s consumer protection agency to see if there any red flags.
So, now you have your list. Get to work and fact-check what they’ve said and projects they’ve done. Call former clients to see if they’re happy with the end results, and see if it’s even possible to visit their homes or if you can visit current job sites to gleamer over their work process. You’ll want to check for cleanliness and workers’ attitude.
Getting Bids, Narrowing Down Even More
The list of contractors is getting shorter now. How exciting! The potentials seem to have a good reputation and their work ethic is up to your standard. So, this step is now to begin forward-thinking.
A contractor that’s on-the-ball will want to see the complete set of blue prints and will also ask for the homeowners’ opinion on the project and what they plan to spend. To start accepting bids, ask the contractors to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Tip: Materials account for 40% of the total cost, and the rest covers overhead and profit margin, which is usually about 15-20%.
Albeit payments are an innocuous factor when it comes to hiring a contractor it can be tell-tale sign about them. Contractors asking for half of the project cost upfront may have underlines issues like debt or trust with you actually paying. The usual amount for a large project is 10% at signing and then 3 payments of 25% spaced evenly over the duration of the project, and finally, the last 15% when it is completed to your satisfaction.
Contracts are what keep honest people honest, and holds everyone accountable.
Draw up a detailed contract that contains:
- Payment schedule
- Proof of liability insurance
- Worker’s compensation payments
- A start date
- Projected completion date
- Specific materials
- Products to be used
- Have the contractor obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers (like permit runners, electrical, etc.) – this will protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills