How many times have we watched television reports about homeowners who got subpar work from a contractor or, even worse, paid for work that was never completed.
It’s important to know how to hire the right contractor for repairs, renovations or home additions.
Here are some important key points to review BEFORE you hire a contractor to perform work on your home.
Do Your Research
Before beginning your search for a general contractor, designer or specialty contractor, do some research. Ask friends, neighbors or even co-workers about contractors they’ve used. Check web sites that post reviews and ratings about contractors. If there are lots of red flags about certain contractors, you may want to look elsewhere-don’t take the risk of hiring someone who has that kind of negative feedback.
Make Sure They’re Licensed
In the state of Florida, most work performed to your home must be performed by a licensed contractor. Here’s a handy link to help you to determine which kinds of repairs, etc. require a licensed contractor. http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/division/Servicesthatrequirealicense_Construction.html
Get Estimates Before You Hire A Contractor
It’s tempting to choose the lowest bidder for your repairs or home improvements but that isn’t always the best idea. Make sure you get several written estimates from contractors and if there’s a significant difference in pricing, ask why.
Ask About Permits And References
For most building projects, permits are required. Actually, permits are required for other projects like the installation of an air conditioning unit, water heater or garage door. Good, competent contractors know they need to obtain the necessary permit before beginning a job. Make sure the contractor you hire obtains the appropriate permit or permits for the work they are performing for you.
Also, ask for references. Good contractors won’t have a problem providing you with names of recent clients they’ve worked for. It’s always a good idea to ask for refererences.
Understand Payment Options
If a project is small, you can usually pay by check or credit card. For larger projects, you may want to arrange financing. Check with your local consumer agency to find out how much of a down payment a contractor can require for work to be performed. Here’s a link to agencies in Florida http://www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/florida.shtml
Make payments during the project that are contingent upon defined amounts of work. If a project is taking longer than expected, your contractor won’t have your money before the project is completed.
Make Sure You Get A Written Contract
There’s a saying, and it’s worth remembering, that “if it isn’t in writing…it isn’t”!
Make sure you get a written contract that clearly outlines the scope of work including the who, what, where, when, and cost of your project. Review pertinent information about the contractor you’re hiring and review everything from payment schedules to permits and warranties on work performed or materials that are installed. MAKE SURE you keep records of the contract and payments you’ve made to a contractor. It’s a good idea to have a file on each project to make sure paperwork is in one place.
Also, don’t release the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work that has been performed.
One other note, some contractors hire “sub-contractors” for jobs. It’s important to make sure sub-contractors meet the same licensing guidelines as main contractors who are working for you.
By doing some homework beforehand and knowing how to proceed with repairs and improvements you want to make to your home or property, you can minimize problems.
Source: Federal Trade Commission