Almost every homeowner will hire a contractor at some point in his or her life. This includes those experienced in home repair, because no one can possibly do every job like electrical and plumbing without proper accreditation. There are certain steps to follow that will help hire the right contractor for the right project.
1. Planning for a Loan
There is an old adage: 'Fail to plan; plan to fail. You may not fail but it may take more time to get to your goal and cost a whole lot more money. In addition, if your project is going to require a bank loan the financial institution will want to see a plan.
2. Detail the Project
Getting specific details down on paper is highly under-rated because many people think they can keep all the facts together mentally. On a clean sheet of paper begin by detailing what needs to be done and then, on another piece of paper, put down your wish-list. This will include luxury features such as granite countertops or solid-hardwood floors, items that you just might get if the budget is right. If the project is larger than a deck then hiring a home designer to put the plan in order will enable you to give all the bidders the exact plans out for estimates. This service may also be available to over see the project and hire the subtrades.
3. Finding Contractors
The internet has made finding contractors a lot easier and many contractor site have homeowner testimonials. (Make sure you get the information to call some of these homeowners) Although not the powerhouse for information that it used to be the Yellow Pages is still a good option to pick out contractors. In addition, building supply stores will have lists of contractors that they consider good prospects. However, asking friends and neighbours the names of contractors who built their new additions or other projects will give you trusted testimonials.
4. Contractor Interviews
When you have gleaned your list to three or four good prospects ask these questions:
â€¢ How long have you been in the trade?â€¢ Are you licensed? (This is if the tradesperson has to be licensed by law, as in an electrician)â€¢ What is your specialty?Â· Is my project the type of job you've done before?Â· Do you have a crew or will you subcontract?Â· How will you tackle my job?Â· Do you have a clean-up crew?Â· What is the timeline?Â· What is your warranty?Â· Do you have proof of insurance for liability and for the health and safety of your crew?Â· Will you provide a written contract?Â· Will you apply for, and physically handle, the permits?
No reputable contractor will have a problem answering these questions. If he or she balks on any of them then go to the next contractor.
Appraising a job can be complicated so have the contractor break it down into material and labour. If you get three or more of these then you will see a pattern on the price of each. For example, if the price of a wooden stud in a building store is $1.50, and the contractor - who usually gets between ten and twenty percent off materials - has the price as $2, then he or she is gouging as much as 75 cents a stick. This could add almost 33% to the materials bill. If possible, seek out someone you and trust, a person who is familiar with hiring contractors, and ask he or she to go over the numbers with you. Remember, on a large project it may take two to three weeks to come back with an estimate so be patient.
Make sure you read the contract and understand all of the fine print. In a large project get a lawyer to go over the fine points. This may cost some money but you will the bases covered.
7. Completion Certificate
When the job is finished the contractor will require you to sign a certificate verifying that the job has been finished. Donï¿½t sign it until you have inspected the work and it is up to your expectations. If the contractor needs to come back to finish a few items then hold back 10% until it is completely finished. Hold-backs on a large project should also be discussed with a lawyer as you would when getting a new home built.
8. Hire a Contractor
If you are satisfied that your contractor is right for the job then working together should be a smooth affair. Because if you've checked references and have obtained the name from a reputable source then the contractor should be both qualified and ethical. So if problems occur be open and cordial about clearing them up. Remember, you want a perfect job done and the contractor wants a great reference for referrals and repeat business.
For more information on working with a contractor consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online.