You have decided that you want to make improvements on your house but don’t know where to begin.
Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, a very good way to get solutions for your ideas is to just call a contractor for an estimate. They have so much knowledge that just by you giving them what is on your mind, they will offer suggestions that you may have never thought, nor will probably have thought. For example, let’s say you want to have more room for the new baby that is on its way. You may be thinking about finishing the basement. You will spend your precious time figuring out all the intricacies of this task.
However, if you call a contractor first and let him know your wishes to have more room for you baby, he may discuss with you totally different suggestions that may cost about the same money. He may say that putting an addition on your house will cost the same and allow better access and give a higher market value for almost the same money.
Now that you decided to call a contractor and he discussed with you all his recommendations, you need to decide on whether an architect will be needed or if the contractor will handle that himself. You should have a consultation with the architect to make sure they are designing for your needs.
Contractors must have personal liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance if required by law, and property damage coverage. Before you let them start work, get a copy of their insurance certificates. Check the effective dates of the certificate and make sure you are listed as an additional insured on the certificate.
The number one pitfall is that the contractor has just a couple things left to complete the job and does not come back. The main reason is either because the contractor got paid the full amount or has started another job and has not managed his time where he can get workers to come back. Never make a final payment until the job is completed. The contract should include a starting and ending date of the job. You attorney can add terms in the contract to make the contractor take those dates seriously.
Payments should be made in parts. If you are taking an equity loan, the lender will make the payments in parts.
Use the following list when hiring a contractor:
Interview and get bids from at least three contractors. Ask friends for recommendations who have done work similar to yours.
Have your questions written down and go down the list with each contractor. Ask all your questions. Make a note on how well he communicates and note his demeanor.
Get a list of previous customers and ask them if they were satisfied with the quality of the work.
Ask about jobs that didn’t go well,.
Check with the Better Business Bureau or a court clerk to check if the contractor had any complaints, and whether they have been resolved. Find out if he has any judgments filed.
Ask whether your project will be the only one scheduled or whether they will be working on several projects simultaneously. Here you need to be sure how he will handle these projects along with unexpected delays that usually arise.
Find out whether the contractor will be personally at your home to supervise the project or if not, who will be in charge.
Ask an attorney to review the home repair contract before you sign.
You need to make sure he pays subcontractors as any of them could put a mechanics lien on your house. Your attorney can ask for a surety bond or similar to protect you.
Call your property insurance agent and check to see if someone is injured while working on your property, they will be covered by your homeowner’s policy just in case the contractor’s insurance does not cover injuries or damages.
Call up former customers and find out if they were satisfied with their project and ask if you can see the finished work.
Ask the former customer what they liked and didn’t like about the contractor.
Ask them if the final cost of the job met the bid price and if the work was completed on time.
Check with the state licensing department to see if the contractor is licensed if required by law.
Check the contractor’s pocket license to see if it matches his personal identification. If you are the non-assertive type, bring a friend or relative with you to make sure you get all this information from the contractor.
Know your legal and consumer rights.