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Hiring A Contractor

When you decide to make additions to your home, remodel, add a room, put on a roof, put in new plumbing or central heat and air, etc., the most important thing to think about is who you are going to get to do the work if you are not doing the job yourself. Most people don't have the time or the know how to do most remodeling jobs, so they hire a contractor.

When hiring a contractor, there are some important steps that you should take. Remember, there is a lot of fraudulent work being done in the building and remodeling industry, so the first and most critical thing you must do is make sure that any contractor you use is licensed, bonded, and carry the right type, and the right amount, of insurance.

Some people who claim to be contractors are really not licensed, so you should ask the contractor for his license number and then call your state's contractors licensing board to make sure that it is authentic.

Even if the license is valid, you should take your inquiry a step further by asking the board for the name, address, and a telephone number for the contractor who is shown to be the licensee. You should call that number and go by the office. The reason for this is that someone else who is not licensed under that number may be using it without the real contractor's knowledge and consent.

Get at least 3 estimates. Talk to each contractor in depth and make sure you know and understand what each contractor will and won't do. Remember, the lowest bid price is not always the best way to save money, nor is the highest bid always best for you.

When hiring a contractor, the buck stops with you. You are the one who has to make the determination as to whether you want to hire a particular contractor, or not, so make sure you ask all the right questions and don't pay close attention to what each contractor is offering.

It is very important that you never sign an incomplete contract. If you don't see what you are asking for in the contract, don't sign it. Make sure that everything is included up front because if it is not and make an issue about it later, you may not have a legal leg to stand on.

You should look at and study all required plans. They should be accurate and you should insist on approving them before the contractor starts the job.

Some important questions to ask are:

  • What are the financial terms, including price and payment schedule.
  • Is there a penalties if you decide to cancel the contract within three days of signing it?
  • If a disagreement occurs, is there a binding arbitration clause in the contract which will allow you to resolve disputes without hiring attorneys and accumulating costly litigation fees?
  • Is there a warranty covering workmanship and materials?
  • What are the approximate start and completion dates?

Note: A contractor's worst fear is when a client decides that he or she is not satisfied with the colors, materials used, or the design of the project once the job is underway. So it is imperative that you, the client, know what you want before having the contractor start the job. The contractor is liable for what is in the contract and if changes are made, you will have to pay for any additional costs.

Once you make the decision on your choice of contractors, get a list of all materials that the contractor will need. This should include size, color, brand name, and models.

Ask for a warranty that will cover workmanship and all materials used in the project. The warranty should cover a minimum period of at least one year and it should include a name, address, and telephone number of the party who will honor the warranty.

Everything you want done should be listed in the contract but you should set aside at least ten percent over the contractors bid in case you want to make changes that are outside of the original contract. Don't think that a contractor is going to agree to do additional work for free.

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