Hiring a Qualified Contractor
Knowing who to hire to complete repairs or renovations on your residence can be difficult. There are many ways to find contractors. Ask your friends, family, and/or your local building supply company for recommendations. In the past, many of us would look up contractors in the yellow pages, however with current information methods most people have access to the internet and are now looking online. Many contractor’s have their own website which can give you a lot of information about their qualifications, experience, and professionalism.
Does the contractor have all the necessary licenses and/or permits required to complete the project? Is the contracted work being completed in accordance with local building codes? Call your cities building department with any questions about permits and building codes. Check with your states licensing department to see if there are any licenses required for the type of work you are having completed on your residence. For instance, in Illinois all roofers are required to have a roofing license.
Does the contractor carry insurance? What type of insurance do they carry? All contractors should have General Liability and Worker’s compensation insurance. General Liability coverage covers damage to your property due to an accident, faulty workmanship, damage to your property and injuries to someone as a result of the contractor’s operations. Worker’s Compensation covers the contractor’s employees with medical and disability insurance for on the job injuries.
Other things you want to get from your bidding contractors are references; make sure the references are from customers who have completed the same type of renovation you are looking for. Contractors should not have a problem giving you at least three references which include phone numbers and addresses. Some questions you may want to ask the referrals are: Were there any problems during or after the completion of your project? Were there any unexpected fees charged? Was the job completed professionally? Did the contractor keep the area clean of trash and debris? May I come by and examine the work? Would you hire the contractor again?
General Contractors are qualified to handle numerous subcontractors for completion of larger building projects. Their expertise will provide good quality subcontractors to complete a successful project. There is a fee for the General Contractor to supervise these portions of the project. This fee is normally negotiable depending on the size of the project and the individual contractor.
Are warranties included with work you want completed? What does the warranty cover and how long is the warranty period?
Don’t’ give verbal authorization to complete a project. Make sure the contractor provides you with a written contract which includes the procedures required to complete the work. Also are brand names, styles, sizes, and/or colors listed? The contract should also include all the contractors contact information, such as address, phone/cell number, fax, and/or email. Are warranties and payment terms stated in the contract? Do not pay for the entire project upfront; paying for the project upfront gives the contractor little motivation to complete the project in a timely manner. Does the contract state how any additional work and/or change orders will be addressed? You want to make sure you are aware and approve any additional work or changes, before they occur.
These are the basics on hiring a contractor. Compare all bids. Don’t necessarily go with the lowest bid. Which company do you feel will satisfactorily complete your project? Are the contractors using the same quality products? Are the contractors using exactly the same procedures? Compare apples to apples. If the contractors use different procedures and products then the contract costs will vary.