How to Choose the Right Contractor
There is certainly no shortage of contractors willing to accept your next home project. So how are you supposed to determine which contractor is right for you and your home? To assist you we have compiled a checklist to use as a litmus test for finding your contractor.
- A contractor should be licensed for the value of work proposed. If you are considering a project under $10,000 a Class C contractor will be adequately licensed to perform your project. A Class B contractoris permitted to carry out projects up to $120,000. Any job over the $120,000 mark can only be performed by a Class A contractor. There is no value limit for the work of a Class A contractor.
- Regardless the scope of your home improvement project, any contractor you work with must have workers compensation and general liability insurance. Without both, should anyone become injured or should an accident take place on your property, you as the homeowner will be held liable. This is a risk you should never take.
- When multiple trades are involved in your renovation project, you need to verify that any subcontractors your general contractor hires are also licensed and insured for the scope of work they will be performing.
- Request a list of references for projects similar to the one you are planning from each contractor who remains in the running after they have answered numbers one through three.
- Find out how many years of experience the project manager who will oversee your work has prior to signing a contract. This is arguably more important than how long the company itself has been in business.
- Ask each contractor how he develops his quote. It is important that your contractor bases his estimate off historical data from previous projects to create a realistic number for your specific project. Ballpark figures and rough estimates are simply unreliable and will end up costing you more in the long run.
- If a “contractor” pulls out a piece of paper, writes on the back of it and asks you to sign on the line, WALK AWAY. Do not sign a contract that is lacking details. You are only legally guaranteed what you agree to on paper. Be certain your expectations for the project are thoroughly documented in the contract. The contract you sign should be clear, legible and detailed enough that if the person you were working with was removed from the project, another could easily complete the job with nothing more than your contract in hand.
- The fine print in the contract should not be one sided. Make sure both parties are covered in the terms and agreements. It can’t be all about protecting the contractor. It has to be about protecting the homeowner as well.Any contractor who passes all eight of these measures is worthy of your consideration.
Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable on personal level with the person and company managing your project and working in your home. Their proposal must achieve your goals and vision, and their work must meet or exceed your standards. Be sure to bring these elements into your decision-making as you enter the final stages of your evaluation.