Taking on a home renovation project can be overwhelming, let alone finding vendors to assist you. No one wants to spend hoards of money on a job gone wrong. There are many things to consider that you may not know and which need to be cleared first, before hiring the right contractor. Some of them include: Are they licensed and insured? What’s included in the bid? Do they agree upon signing a lean waver? Etc. We dig in here with some tips to go by.
Ask about previous employer references. Have they done this type of work before?
Ask about his work from previous employers. This will be helpful if you have found him on the internet. Online reviews can only tell you so much. Contact a previous customer directly to learn more about the type of work completed, the quality, budget, and timeline.
This is why referrals (from a trusted source) are so valuable! Also, check their social media or websites for pictures of work completed. Does it match your tastes and standards?
Do they have a license and insurance?
Any construction work has dangers of physical hazards. If your contractor is not insured, the liability will be on your shoulders if any type of work related injury happens. This can include injury to the contractor, or damage to your, or other’s properties. For example, if you have scaffolding that fell and damaged the neighboring property you will want to make sure the damage is paid by the contractor and not you.
Insurance and proper licensing also shows that the contractor has undergone a proper exam and proved that he knows the building codes and processes. Make sure to get proof of the same, such as licensing number and hard copy of the insurance.
Is he a subcontractor or a contractor?
Be aware of who will handle your property. Is the guy you are dealing with going to do it or will he be hiring a subcontractor for the job. Don’t worry if he hires subcontractors as they usually have more knowledge of the specific type of work that they do. Large jobs often involve multiple subcontractors as do most of the specialty jobs. Also it’s always nice to know beforehand, who will be showing up at your door step.
Upfront costs and payment scheduling
Setting up a payment schedule plan before the beginning of the project is must. Every contractor is different, and every type of work requires different needs. Some contractors will request an up-front amount to cover materials, or a portion of materials, while others will want payments prior to, during, and after the completed work. Some expect payment the day work is completed, while others have a 30-day pay period. The important part is to be on the same page, and to NEVER pay for work completed in entirety before the work is completed.
Make a contract before the beginning of the actual work
Such a contract is necessary to cover the costs and the term for which the project will last. In some cases, it should also include a complete set of drawings with all the written specifications. Do not forget to include space for advanced allowances, things which have not been decided yet.
When contacting multiple contractors you won’t be able to remember the detailed prices of all the things that each will quote. A contract will help you compare the same, so as to help in finding the right contractor.
Ask him about all the hidden costs that the bid will not cover
During the working of the project your contractor may give you additional surprises that may come from areas like licensing costs, permits or other things. Be sure to ask him whether the price quoted in the contract is an actual one or just a rough estimate. A poor rough estimate can end up showing way too much deviation when things starts rolling. Also, some contractors get in the door by giving a “base price” as a starting point of work to be done, then will continue adding to it as issues arise. Be firm on pricing, and set expectations prior to work beginning.
Be aware of the lien laws
These laws provide insurance to anyone who doesn’t receive a payment of the material provided by them for someone else’s work. In this case it is you. For example if your contractor didn’t get paid for the tiles laid in your house, you will be held liable for such a payment, even though you paid your contractor the tile money.
Lien laws vary from state to state. Make them sign a lien waiver. Also be aware of your contractor’s financial status. Check that he doesn’t owe money to someone else because in that case too, you might be the one paying for someone else. Finally if your contractor has a lien against him, try avoiding him at all costs.
The last tip
Go with your intuitions. A contractor will spend weeks if not months around you and your family. Also he is taking the care of your prized possession. If you really like a contractor and can feel that he is the guy who can really understand your thought process then go with him. If however for some reason you don’t like working with him even though he has an impressive resume then don’t hire him.
SCUDO works with and vets vendors and contractors daily. Contact us today if you’d like a referral for a specific home project! We’re happy to recommend the vendors we trust!