Q: I'm planning to hire a contractor to do some remodeling work in my home. How can I be sure I choose the right contractor?
A: When you are making preparations for any kind of construction project, the task of choosing a contractor is one of the most important issues and it should never be based solely on the lowest price.
The easiest place to start the process is with your friends and neighbors. Ask about the contractors they have used, and use some of these questions to learn about their experience:
- After the project was completed, did everything work properly, or did the contractor have to return several times to correct problems?
- Did your contractor always arrive at the prearranged time?
- When the contractor or employees of the contractor worked in your home, did they take precautions to protect carpet, walls, flooring and other personal property?
- If an item was damaged, did the contractor inform you of the damage and offer to compensate you for it?
- Was the physical appearance of your contractor or his employees neat and professional, or did you have misgivings about their character, based on vulgar clothing or lack of cleanliness?
During the selection process you should ask the contractor to provide a certificate of insurance for himself and any crew member working for him. You should also ask for references and then contact other people for whom he has completed work. Also, ask for a written, detailed project bid.
When the construction process is under way, accompany your contractor during inspections and ask questions. Never commit to making full payment before a project is completed. If necessary set up a payment plan (in writing) based on making payments as each predetermined stage of the project is finished.
Also, realize that some contractors are more focused on deadlines than on details and the task of catching oversights and mistakes may fall to you. Educate yourself so that you can voice your opinion in an informed manner and you can avoid feeling as if your opinion has been discounted because you are not a builder. If you notice something that needs to be corrected, speak to your contractor and if necessary, put in writing when the correction will take place and what it will entail.
On the other hand, remember that your building contractor's bid is based on the parameters you set for your project, and if you make a change to the plan after construction has begun, the price most likely will change.
For more information, attend a free New Home Seminar at the REMC. A schedule is published in the "Seminars and Events" section of this web site.