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Selecting A Contractor

Selecting the right contractor is a large responsibility. Here are a few key questions to ask the contractor who you are considering for the job.

What is the contractor's street address?
Avoid contractors with only a post office box. If the contractor has an office, stop in and visit. Shady contractors can close and setup a new office every two or three months. Avoid contractors who use telemarketing techniques to contact you. Often, they charge 100% above industry standard prices.


How long has the contractor been in business?
Do not confuse this question with how long a contractor has been a tradesman. An individual may have been a painter for 20 years, but have been in business for one month.

Does the contractor have the resources to complete the job as scheduled?
While you cannot expect the contractor to share his financial information with you, use your discretion to determine if you believe he can complete your job as schedule. Ask him

Does the contractor have licenses and insurance?
A satisfactory answer to this question can have you avoid problems in the future. If your contractor is not properly licensed, your local inspections department may require the work be re-done by a licensed contractor at your expense.

Can the contractor provide you a list of references?
You will want to see a list of satisfied customers with, at minimum, telephone numbers. Make calling his references a major priority. Satisfied customers are probably the most important thing to consider when qualifying a contractor. Don't just get the references. CHECK THEM


Dealing With the Contractor

Does the contractor appear to be knowledgeable?
Ask your contractors questions about your project. Be sure the answers are to your satisfaction.


Does the contractor appear to have a genuine concern for your needs?
Voice your concerns. He should be willing to accommodate you. This is especially true when it comes to scheduling. Some jobs may require that you not occupy your home while work is in progress.

Can you communicate effectively with the contractor?
You should be able to speak comfortably and frank with your contractor. This is important to avoid conflicts and confrontations as the job progresses. Be sure you understand the difference between a proposed quote and a proposed estimate.

Will the contractor obtain the required permits?
Have the contractor acquire any permits required to finish the job. This causes him to be financially responsible for any work that fail to meet the minimum code in your area.

Will the contractor guarantee all materials and workmanship?
Some materials carry its own warranty. Make sure the contractor pass the warranty on to you. Be sure the contract states any warranties provided by the contractor against defects in workmanship. Additionally the warranties should expressly state the period of time covered. For example, a new roof might carry a 5-year workmanship guarantees against leaks offered by the contractor, while the shingles carry a 25-year guarantee offered by the manufacturer.

What happens if you change your mind?
You should know what happens if you change your mind at any point during the performance of your contract. If work has begun, the contractor should execute a written change order stating a description of the changes and the associated cost.

Will the work follow a schedule?
Larger jobs may require scheduling of certain tasks. It would be futile to replace a ceiling before fixing a leaking roof. Make sure the contract follows a logical task schedule. The contract should also state a start and finish date.

Who cleans up after the job is finished?
It is important to understand what role in the work, if any, you are agreeing to. If the contractor agrees to clean up during, or after the work, the contract should state so. It should also state the extent of cleaning to be done. (for example, the job should be left in broom clean condition)

What is the exact schedule of payments to be made?
Your written contract should spell out the exact schedule of payment to be made. A contractual draw (payment) schedule is usually based on a percentage of work done. As a rule, it's a good idea to keep the percentage of work completed ahead of the payments made for the work completed. Any changes to the payment schedule should be made only after a written change order has been agreed upon and executed.


How To Avoid Problems With Contractors

By Ilyce Glink for Right at Home Daily


While most contractors are good people, they aren't always good at planning out and executing a renovation job efficiently. Common contractor troubles include poor workmanship, unfulfilled promises and deliveries, missed deadlines, and spending beyond the budget.

Contractors say that it's difficult to please many homeowners because they're never satisfied with the finished product. Homeowners say contractors promise to come back and finish punch list items but rarely do.

To protect yourself, you need a written contract with your contractor. You can find a sample contract from the American Institute of Architects. Be sure you show the contract to a real estate attorney before you sign it. While the AIA form contract is a good starting point for negotiation, your contract should reflect the details of your own project, including the starting and completion dates.

And, don't give the contractor the final check until you're completely satisfied.

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