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Its finally time to tackle that big home improvement project youve always wanted to do. “But,” you ask. Where do I start? It’s important to make sure you find the right general contractor for the job.
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Its finally time to tackle that big home improvement project youve always wanted to do. Or, you might have waited so long, now you need to do the project. Which leads to your first question Where do I start?
Well, the truth is some jobs are simply too big, too complicated, or require too much time to handle on your own. Whether its remodeling a kitchen, installing gutters, or electrical rewiring for your business youll likely need an expert.
A contractor, or subcontractor, can be your knight in shining armor when it comes to completing your project. But, wait youve heard so many horror stories connected with shady contractors that youre starting to re-think this re-model. But statistics show that the huge majority of contractors out there are honest, hard-working professionals. Most people are happy with any improvement project they undertake.
Fine, you say. How can I protect myself and make sure I find a great contractor? Im glad you asked. Here are some standard tips you can follow to make sure your repair, remodel, or installation goes well:
o Got License? Most states require that a contractor have a license to operate in that state. Once you find a contractor, check to see if he or she has a local contracting license to do the job.
o Check References get at least three references from satisfied clients. And if you want to get really fanatical, go to the contractors current job site. See if the site is messy. Are the workers taking care of the property?
o Get Bids if you have the luxury, get multiple bids from several contractors. Dont always assume that the lowest bid is the best, because that contractor may be desperate for work or might cut corners on the job. But if you get contractors from several sources, you could get a really great deal.
o Get it in Writing the days of the handshake deal are far behind us. Get a detailed contract together and throw everything in (even if the project doesnt involve the kitchen sink!) The more you clarify, the fewer headaches youll have if things go wrong.
o Do You Take a Check? Dont ever pay in cash. Can you say, Proof of payment? I thought you could Keep logs of all payments (for example – 10% down, 20% by one date, another 20% by another date, final payment when work is complete) and pay with check or credit card only.
Wait a minute! you protest, That sounds like a lot of work! Sure it does. Because it is a lot of work. If you think a renovation or remodeling job is expensive, imagine having to pay for it twice! Do your homework and youll avoid being a horror story.
Are there any warning signs of a bad contractor? you ask. Boy, you sure do ask a lot of questions. And thats good. Always ask a lot of questions. The more you know, the better prepared youll be to handle the unexpected.
Okay, these are signs a contractor might not be your best choice:
o If required by the state, your contractor doesnt want to show you his or her license. Or wont give you references. Or you two dont get along. Keep in mind: this person may be in your home, working side-by-side with you, for several months youd better get along!
o Your contractor wants you to pay for the entire project up front. Run for the hills.
o Your contractor has a friend in the financing business that can get you a good deal on a loan for your project. Youll end up with a huge 2nd mortgage at a ridiculously high rate and your contractor just got a juicy commission on the deal.
o Your contractor doesnt have a business address, a business card, and it looks like the contractor sleeps in his or her pickup truck. Run really fast for those hills.
Okay. Now you know some of the warning signs. Here are some signs you may have found a really good contractor:
o The contractor has at least 4 to 5 years experience. It shows they can manage their business and complete their projects.
o The contractor has insurance. Liability and workers compensation are the most important types of coverage to make sure everyone is covered.
o The contractor has more than references he or she may even carry a book of photos showing past work projects that have been completed.
o The contractor provides cost breakdowns for the job. These breakdowns show specific details of what the project will cost to complete.
o The contractor is flexible. Communicate all your requirements and specifications for the project. Whether you two decide that you want to supervise the work or you want to let the contractor make all the decisions, your contractor will be flexible enough to work with you.
Okay, am I ready? Yes, now youre ready to hire a professional to help get your home or business improvement project off the ground. One of the best ways to protect yourself is the act of due diligence. Websters defines due diligence as: The care that a prudent person might be expected to exercise in the examination and evaluation of risks affecting a business transaction. In simplified terms Do your homework. And youll do just fine.
Have fun and make the most out of your experience!
STCS How to Find the Best Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project