It’s finally spring! Which means yard work, painting and pool openings are right around the corner. If you aren’t the do-it-yourself type, you’ll probably rely on a professional to get the job done. Before you shell out any hard cash to an unfamiliar contractor, it’s best to do some prep work.
Here are a few things you should to keep in mind when hiring a contractor:
Check to make sure your contractor holds a valid license. Each state has different rules; visit contractors-license.org to view requirements in your area. Make sure that they also have a clean bill of health from the Better Business Bureau and from your state’s consumer protection agency.
Bonding & Insurance
Bonding provides assurance that the contracted work you hired out will be satisfactorily completed. It is a third party’s obligation promising to pay a penalty if a vendor does not fulfill its contractual obligations.
Insurance, on the other hand, covers liability issues that may arise in the course of someone’s work.
Quality contractors will provide you with a list of past clients whom you can call upon for a reference. Be sure to ask questions regarding the contractor’s punctuality, cleanliness, work ethic, attention to detail, personality, etc. Depending on the size of your project, you may be working with your contractor for several months. Finding someone who is easy to get along with can tremendously reduce frustration during the process.
The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is certainly true when it comes to the quality of a contractor’s work. While a home professional may be licensed and insured, these criteria speak nothing about the quality of their work. When you contact a contractor’s past referrals, be sure to ask for a few photos.
Remember that price is always a tradeoff. Some contractors may be able to give you a lower price because they have less overhead costs as a result of a smaller team with no office assistance, but hiring such a contractor may extend your timeline and/or lead to communication issues.
By receiving 3-5 estimates from various contractors, you’ll be able to infer a fair price for your project.
Every project should have a contract, no matter the size of the estimated work. The contract should include a work timetable, start and finish dates, a description of the work, materials, a payment schedule and warranties.
Be very wary of contractors who require significant payment before beginning the job. Larger projects may require a portion of funding upfront to finance material purchases. If this is the case, you should have the contractor provide a material list and place the orders yourself. Otherwise, you and the contractor should set project milestones and a payment schedule within the contract.
Homespree is building a platform to help you find quality contractors and get estimates directly from your smartphone. Stay tuned on our blog for information on our upcoming application release and sign up for beta at www.myhomespree.com.