Monday, April 9, 2012

How To Choose A Contractor

This can be one of the most difficult decisions you will make. Choosing a contractor can be as complicated as finding a business partner or hiring a long time employee.

Let’s face it, not only will you be practically living with them, you will be spending a lot of your hard earned money on them and very precious time. If you have friends and/or people you know and trust who have done some similar renovations, you are well ahead of the game, and communicating with these parties will be as a good a place to start as any. If you don’t as I suspect many of you do not, here is my recommendation on “how to choose a contractor”: 
  • Regardless of where the contractor comes from, you should also check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any negative feedback about the contractors you are considering.
  • Ask each contractor for a minimum of three references of his most recent jobs completed, including the scope of the work; time to completion; problems they came up on and their resolution.
  • If possible visit each worksite and talk directly to the contractor’s previous clients. Ask them if they would hire the contractor again; if there were any problems that were difficult to resolve.
  • Thoroughly review all your bids. Make sure that you understand what the bids include and do not include. Be wary of contractors that come in too low, they are often the ones who want the job desperately and may be dishonest oh what things will cost.
  • Make sure you have a fair and reasonable contract, which details all the work to included and work to be excluded; and time to completion. If possible see if the contractor will be willing to have a penalty clause where he will decrease his fee if he does not live up to his time frame. Depending on your time frame, you may want to also consider a bonus if they are done sooner.

There is a Consumer Report that will give you more detailed questions to ask, and things to consider. From my experience, if the contractor is desperate to start and has no current work my advice is to be very cautions and be sure to do your homework on them. Good contractors will always have work, even in a slow economy, will have to schedule you in advance and will not be the cheapest. Remember, you do get what you pay for. 

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