What You Should Know To Avoid a Rip-Off
Part Two of a Two-Part series
In Part One of this article, we covered what to watch out for when it comes to hiring a contractor, sub-contractor or handyperson so you do not experience the heartache and frustration of getting scammed. In this second part, we will cover how contractors work and what practices good, reputable contractors follow.
Who Are they?
A legitimate contractor is going to be able to provide you with their contractor’s license number. This is so you can verify their license through your state’s Board for Licensing Contractors. While there, you can also check to see if your state provides a “Problem Contractor” or “Buyer Beware” list.
Along this same vein, researching your contractor’s name online for reviews is also a good idea. However, it is important to consider the source and the number of complaints. Established contractors understand the important of your due diligence. Fly-by-night or sub-standard contractors will realize they cannot mutilate you and will run because you are doing your research.
Signing on the Dotted Line
A good residential remodeling contractor is going to notify you of your right to cancel within three (3) days of signing a contract. These laws vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to become familiar with your state’s laws regarding this.
Most contractors will understand that you will be collecting at least three (3) bids and that you are going to check out their work before you hire them. This allows you to compare the contractor’s process, bids, and determine if the bids are reasonable and within your budget. In addition, this allows you to select the RIGHT contractor and get the best price.
Make sure the details of the project and expectations are clearly spelled out and signed in a written contract. This should include project materials, clean-up, debris removal, site security, warranty info, etc. Most contractors will follow this practice to protect you as well as themselves.
Permits Are Important and Required
Find out from your local building department if your project will require a building permit. There are serious fines and consequences for not pulling the proper permits. A good contractor is going to be able to obtain all necessary permits. Fees for this should be outlined in your contract.
Time is Money
A timetable for each phase of your project is not only a good idea, it is going to save you headaches later. This way you will be able to easily track payments for each phase of work. Likewise, the payment schedule should fall in line with this timetable. This should also be a part of the contract. Good business contractors know this and will supply it readily.
They Are Organized
Keeping a job file containing all relevant paperwork is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of your project. This should include a copy of the contract, change orders, job site photos, record of payments, and even copies of the permits. You’ll also want to have contact information for all major sub-contractors (mechanical, electrical, plumber, roofer, etc.). Most good contractors will also retain this information in their files as standard practice. Other information to include could be paint samples, carpet/flooring samples, and owner’s manuals for all appliances and the warranty information for each. However, you may need to ask the contractor for this info for your files, before you sign the contract.
They sound intimidating and can be if you get caught in one. Learn about how to avoid this type of lien on your property by checking out your state laws. A good contractor is going to discuss this openly with you and what it means, but do your own research to be sure.
All of these items will be no problem for a reputable residential remodeling contractor, sub-contractor, or handyperson. This is standard operating procedure for most and is pretty much the industry standard across the board. If there is anything you don’t understand or need clarification on, do not be afraid to ask your contractor to explain them to you.
By following these guidelines, you are sure to be pleased with anyone you hire to work on your property because you will be assured they are legitimate and will work to bring about your desired results. You being happy with the work equals them being paid for that work; therefore, it is in their best interests to conduct everything above-board.
Remember it’s YOUR home and YOUR money…make the most of it!