Tips for Hiring a Contractor


You’re in your new home or you suddenly find you have a DIY project you can’t do. In any case, there’s work to be done. Choosing the right contractor is not easy. Asking your neighbors for recommendations may be one place to start. Looking online is another. You definitely want to make sure you have the right person for the job. Taking a little time up front can save you time, money and aggravation in the end.

Tips for hiring a contractor:

Make sure the contractor is licensed to work in your area and bonded and insured. The licenses show that the contractors have taken the necessary exams and know the building codes and processes. The insurance protects you against liability, should an injury occur to a worker while in your home.

Pick a contractor who specializes in the type of project you are doing. Many projects are code-specific and you want someone who knows the details of what needs to be done, and gets the project done right, the first time.

Look at work samples. This lets you see a contractor’s handiwork and may spark ideas for your project. Samples may be more important than references – what was perfect for your neighbor may not be perfect for you. Looking at a contractor’s past projects also lets you see the variety of work the company has performed – contemporary, modern, historical.

Give the contractors guidelines for working around your home. What’s the earliest the contractors can get there? What time do they need to be gone? Do you have specific start and finish dates in mind? Be clear about these at the onset of the project. Your limitations may affect their ability to do the job.

Know what your responsibilities are. Do you need to move furniture out of a room? Do you need to find alternate accommodations for your dog for a day or two, or do you need to move your cats to the laundry room? Find out ahead of time and be ready when the contractors get to your home.

Understand how a contractor puts together a bid and what it means to you. There are two basic bid types:

Time and Materials: Contractor provides receipts for materials and number of hours at a certain rate. It is your right to get a copy of receipts and give feedback as to where materials are purchased and at what cost.

Fixed Amount Bid: This provides you the amount it will cost for a contractor to complete your job. You must nail down a quantity of materials, but you will not receive a copy of the cost of materials. By signing this bid, you are agreeing that the job is to be completed at the quoted price.

There are a lot of things you can do to make sure that you and your contractor have a good working relationship. You do your part and they’ll do theirs! 

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