York, PA (PRWEB) May 30, 2014
Completing home improvements can be one of the most satisfying projects in life. However, according to the homeowner blogging website, StageofLife.com, the process can be equally stressful, especially when it comes to finding a trustworthy contractor to the do job.
When planning to hire a contractor to do the work, homeowners can take some of the stress out of the picture early by using a simple 10-step checklist to ensure hiring the right person or company for the home improvement or remodel occurs.
Tip #1: Ask the Contractor for Proof of Insurance
Ask the contractor to have his insurance company mail or fax a copy of his current contractor insurance card. If the contractor can't do this - stay away. Why? If there is an accident at the home, the homeowner is liable. This also applies to any sub-contractor or employee that the contractor may use - those individuals should have active insurance cards faxed or mailed in as well.
Tip #2: Check References and See Photos
Ask for at least three references - with two of them being for the same type of project you are planning - and then call the references. Additionally, ask the contractor to provide photos of previous work, especially for the same type of project. If he produces lawn and garden photos and you're planning a bathroom remodel, you may want to check out another contractor.
Tip #3: Does the Contractor Take Debit or Credit Cards?
Besides the ability to earn a few points, bonus miles, or cash back on a remodel project, a good sign that a contractor is financially savvy and has a bank behind his business is his ability to take debit and credit cards. This doesn't just apply to big contracting companies. Many small, one-man shops will take cards if they have a good relationship with their business bank or credit union.
Tip #4: Manners and Appearance
This is probably a no-brainer but does the contractor present himself in a professional way? Do you feel comfortable around him or his employees? They will be working in your home.
Tip #5: Cleaning Policy?
If the contractor drove his vehicle to the home to provide an estimate, take a look at the way he keeps the equipment and vehicle. Are things clean? Neatly arranged? If not - that's a big warning. The way a contractor treats his tools is a direct connection to how he'll treat the home. On this note, and just as important, ask about the clean-up policy.
Tip #6: Will the Contractor Put the Project Scope in Writing?
Is the contractor willing to put both his bid and the scope of work in writing? If not - walk away immediately. You'll be surprised how many contractors will verbally tell the homeowner that a certain piece of the remodeling project is included but will then, in the middle of everything, say it will cost you extra money, thus holding the homeowner hostage with an uncompleted project.
Tip #7: Is Your Contractor Available?
Can the contractor get the job done in the desired timeline, rather than his timeline? There's nothing more frustrating than if a contractor tells the homeowner that a job will be done by a certain date and then it isn't . On the flip side, if the homeowner can't find a good contractor that's willing to commit to a timeline, expectations may be too high and the homeowner may need to adjust his/her timeline.
Tip #8: Does Your Contractor Use "Subs?"
Does the contractor plan on doing everything himself? Or will he “sub out” work to the “trades?” For example, if the homeowner is remodeling a bathroom, he or she may need a plumber, electrician, and carpenter. It’s okay if the contractor subs work out to these specific trades - it shows he wants the work done right.
Also, it's fair to say that you can expect your contractor to make money off the trades, or other sub-contractors, by marking up their quotes for the project. That’s a standard practice because there is a lot of time spent on scheduling.
If the homeowner doesn't want to spend the extra money on a contractor marking up the trade quotes, then the homeowner should prepare to project manage the remodel. Know this may limit options on contractors willing to work with you.
Tip #9: What Is Your Contractor's Billing Policy?
Ask the contractor about his quoting procedure. Will it contain general information, or will it be specific? For example – most contractors will charge for a fuel surcharge, material up-charges, waste removal, labor, etc. Some will show these exact costs in a line item invoice, but others roll it up into one big bill. How much detail is desired? Homeowners should clarify that early in the contract upfront.
Also - what is the payment or billing policy? Is money is required upfront? If so, go back to #1 and #2 above to make sure the contractor's references have been checked and a copy of his contractor's insurance has been provided.
To Do #10: Did Your Contractor Get the Permits?
Ask every contractor to take care of the permits. Although permits cost money, the inspection process is meant to protect homeowners from poor workmanship and to make sure that everything is being built to code.
For other homeowner tips and articles, visit StageofLife.com - the international blogging community about life.
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