Hiring a contractor to do home improvement projects is a very big deal. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when choosing a contractor.
Getting a variety of estimates is key. Because you are not an expert, the estimates will indicate whether or not you are getting a fair deal. The contractor should know that you are shopping around and comparing estimates. A good contractor will be competitive but fair, and he will give you the bid in writing. Be sure to insist that the bid is detailed.
Don’t waste time chasing down an unresponsive contractor. If a contractor won’t make the time to return your phone calls or emails, he probably isn’t worth your time or consideration. Additionally, if he can’t return calls before the project begins, imagine how frustrating it could be if he is unreachable during the project. Take him off your list.
Pay attention to your first impression. Does he communicate well? Is he willing to listen to you? Do you feel like he cares about the project and wants to do a good job? You basically need to discern whether or not his heart is in his work.
A professional that asks for a large down payment should be avoided. A standard deposit is typically 10%. The stability of the company should be questioned if a larger amount is asked for.Other warning signs are being asked for cash or to write checks to the contractor personally and not the company.
Hiring an unlicensed contractor is not a good idea. The license proves that he is qualified. When state or city permits are called for, he needs to conform. Having an inspector sign off on the work the contractor performs is protection for the homeowner. If the contractor isn’t licensed and won’t pull permits, walk away.
Do your own research on products and materials. Be sure that you are getting the exact fixtures, materials and supplies you want. A story was once told of a contractor who switched out the homeowner’s selected paint to a cheaper brand. The homeowner didn’t find out until the project was complete. By that time, the homeowner was fed up with the contractor, and kicked him to the curb. That indiscretion left the homeowner with a low-grade paint job and no patience to have the work redone.
Lastly, a great contractor will be pleased to provide you with many references. Don’t be afraid to check the Better Business Bureau for information regarding the professional.
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