Having dealt with contractors for the last 7+ years, I’ve had both good and bad experiences.
Just like any other business… Ultimately, even if you take all necessary precautions you can’t 100% guarantee successful dealings. It’s about trial and error!
That being said, if you follow the guidelines below you’ll give yourself a really good shot at getting your project done right, for a fair price, in a reasonable amount of time.
1. Make sure they have the proper license.
This seems obvious, but in a straw poll of people that I know who have done recent renovations to their home, not a one of them actually pulled the licensing information for their contractor! Here’s where you can:
2. Check to see if they’re pulling permits for other jobs.
Because you don’t want to hire the contractor that has been retired for the past 5 years (but keeping his license active) and decided to get back into the swing of things with your project. Because codes and construction requirements are an ever-changing thing, I’d recommend hiring someone who does this on a daily basis.
Under the “Search by” drop down you can choose “Company Name”
3. Get several bids.
Sounds obvious, but it truly does save to comparison shop! There’s something about healthy competition that’s good for everyone. Don’t know where to look for contractors? Google is your friend! If you’d like, I’d be happy to send you a list of a few contractors that I use – just send me an email.
Additionally, make sure that you have a clear vision of your scope of work. This allows you to compare apples to apples. If you only give contractors a general idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, then you will generally not be able to match up each bid to see who’s giving you the best deal. Maybe the materials used are drastically different, maybe one of your bids is cutting out a lot of the little detail work that you assumed was going to be done. It’s best to be specific, and put it in writing!
4. Ask for a better deal.
Like my dad always says,
You never know until you ask…
And while you’re asking… It’s a good idea to get references from contractors making bids. If they have a portfolio of past work on hand that’s usually a good sign. And, if you really want to ensure a successful hire, ask to walk a couple of current or recently completed jobs.
5. Don’t pay in full up front!
I learned this one the hard way. If you’re looking to “un-motivate” someone to
do a job, pay before the work is finished. I understand in certain situations (roofing, re-piping, etc.) that a contractor will need a portion of the payment to purchase materials. But if someone starts asking for complete payment up front… Run!!
Part of creating a draw schedule will be to put this in writing. Put everything in writing. When in doubt, write it down and have the contractor sign it. It’s fairly common in the construction world to do business with a handshake. And, this is fine, until you get to an issue that’s not so black and white (of which there will be plenty depending on the size of the project). Having everything in writing is the best way to protect both parties from disputes. It takes a fair amount of work to do so, but it’s well worth it.
Hope this was helpful…