Your home is often your biggest investment, and renovating it well can make quite the difference not only in terms of personal satisfaction, but also market value. Therefore, it is crucial that you find the right contractor to do the job, because failure to do so can cost you dearly. When hiring a contractor, there are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure that you get your money’s worth.
Ask for References
Before you look to the newspaper or internet for a contractor, talk to your friends and relatives and see if they can recommend anyone. Being homeowners themselves, they would have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to renovating. Therefore they will know who to recommend (as well as who to avoid).
Interview Multiple Contractors
Having multiple contractors (at least three) bid for your project, you can make reasonable comparisons. However, ensure that the contractors are similar in terms of materials to be used and areas of specialization.
Select the Right Contractor for Your Project
Ensure that the contractor you are considering specializes in the particular project you have in mind. Just because they did an excellent job replacing your neighbor’s floor doesn’t mean they can build an addition to your house. Also, make sure the contractor has the appropriate licenses and permits to do the job so as to comply with regulations.
Sign a Detailed Contract
Everything that is agreed upon should be written down in the contract. Completion deadlines, payments, and materials to be used should be included and adhered to. Any changes in the project should be reflected in writing.
Make a Small Down Payment
You should not pay the entire amount upfront, instead pay a small amount (ten percent) before the job is scheduled to commence. This will ensure that the contractor commits to finishing the work.
Communicate With the Contractor
Clear communication over the details of what is expected from beginning to end is important to avoid misunderstanding. Establish “ground rules” with the contractor over what hours are to be worked and who does what and where. Keep constant communication with the contractor to ensure that problems are detected early on.
Obtain Lien Releases and Receipts for Products
Make sure you have copies of receipts for all the materials, and make sure to get lien releases from all the subcontractors and the general contractor before you pay. This will protect you in the event that there is a dispute over payment.
Make Sure the Job is 100% Complete Before you Pay
If a job is incomplete or you are not satisfied, withhold payment until it is resolved. This is where having lien releases would be particularly crucial.