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How to Hire a Good General Contractor

It is very important to choose a good contractor when embarking home-improvement projects. A good contractor helps make the process smooth, while an inadequate one can involve unnecessary financial and emotional hardships. Here are some tips to help you find the good contractor you deserve:

1. Get recommendations and references.
Do research on the contractors in your area and listen to the advice of family, friends, and other people in your community who have hired a contractor for similar projects.

2. Get more than one estimate.
Call at least 3 different contractors and insist that they each visit your home to evaluate what needs to be done. These evaluations will allow you to make meaningful comparisons.

3. Be conscious of contractor complaint records.
Check your state or local consumer protection agency or Better Bureau for this important information.

4. Make sure the contractor meets licensing and registration requirements.
It is important that contractors meet the expectations defined by these requirements. Your state or local consumer protection agency can help you find out what these are.

5. Ask suppliers if the contractor makes timely payments.
This will help you determine if the contractor is reliable.

6. Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements.
If the contractor asks you to get the permit, it could mean that their firm is not licensed.

7. Make sure that your contractor has insurance.
It is important that a contractor has personal liability, property damage and workers’ compensation insurance for workers and subcontractors. It is also a good idea to contact your own insurance company to find out if you have coverage for any possible damage or any injury that could occur.

8. Insist that the contractor give you a written contract.
The contract should include all terms and conditions of what work will be done, what materials will be used, names of any subcontractors, and the total price of the job. If your contractor allows scheduled payments, this should be included in the contract as well.

9. Review and know your payment options.
Compare the pros and cons of your own loan versus contractor financing and choose the option that fits your needs best.

10. Make sure that the work is completed as stated by the written contract before you make a final payment or sign a final release.
If subcontractors were hired, you need to make sure that they were paid prior to your final payment and/or final release. If not, you could face serious problems. Some state laws allow unpaid subcontractors and suppliers to place a lien of your home for the bills that the contractor failed to pay.

11. If possible, pay by credit card.
If you use a credit card, you have the option of withholding payment to the credit card company until any problems are corrected.

There are many good contractors that fit all the guidelines listed above; however, there are also contractors to avoid. To stay clear of this mediocre group it is important that you be cautious if the contractor:

  • Calls the job a “demonstration.”
  • Offers you a reduced rate for finding other customers.
  • Quotes a price that is extremely different from other estimates you received.
  • Pressures you to make hasty decisions.

We hope that these tips help!