3 Things to Consider When Hiring a Contractor for Your Home Improvement Projects
If you are like the average homeowner, you want your home to be better.
Home improvement projects take a variety of different forms, but they all have that same theme in common. Some homeowners simply want to remove a wall that detracts from their open floor plan. Others want to install a new bathtub in their master bathroom. Still others decide that they want to create an entirely new addition to their home. All of these are doable for the average homeowner to a greater or lesser degree.
However, the more complicated the project, the less likely that the homeowners are able to finish the entire project by themselves. In those situations, hiring a contractor is a solid idea. But you may not know the process of hiring consistently good contractors. Unfortunate as it is, some contractors are shadier than others. And until they begin work on your home, you may not be able to tell the difference. Despite this, there are steps that you can take to either minimize or remove the chance that you get a rotten contractor.
1. Past History
At this point, you should have a general list of contractors that you potentially want to hire. Before you do anything else, do this step. Call each of the contractors and have a conversation with them. Ask them questions about what kind of projects they take on, the sizes of those projects, and how many other ongoing projects they would have. In addition, ask if they can provide any references that you may be able to look at. If they can give you a list of past clients that you can look over, so much the better. If they are unwilling or unable to provide any of those things, go ahead and cross them off your list.
Second, after you finish narrowing down your list, go ahead and meet with the remaining contractors. Talk with them and get an estimate. See how well you can feel them out from your personal meeting. Ideally, they should have a certification for their work, as can be seen on the Contractor's Institute website. And then move on to the next step once you pick a contractor.
2. Payment Schedule
Once you settle on a contractor and before you begin work, set down a payment schedule that both of you agree to. This can also help you determine if you have made the right choice or not. If the contractor agrees without hesitation to creating a payment schedule, you should be in the clear. If, however, they seem reluctant, you may want to consider finding someone else.
Usually, for larger projects, the payment schedule goes like this: 10 percent of the project cost is due when the contract is signed, then three 25 percent payments throughout the course of the project and closing the project with the last 15 percent after all the items on your punch list are completed.
3. Action Plan
Finally, by yourself and in conjunction with the people that you decide to work with, create a detailed plan of action that covers the project from start to finish. This includes proof from the contractor that he or she has liability insurance and worker's compensation. You should also include a start date and an expected completion date. Talk with your contractor and figure out what materials and tools he or she expects to use for the job, just so that you both are clear on it.
You should also ensure that the contractor has a lien release from the suppliers and subcontractors that he or she plans to use. A lien release is a guarantee that you, the homeowner, are not held accountable if the contractor does not pay his or her underlings.
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the considerations you should have before hiring a contractor. However, these are some of the most important considerations. Stay on schedule, stay on budget, and soon your home improvement project should become a reality.