8 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Dated: November 19 2020

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Planning for home renovations? Choosing the right contractor for the job is a critical first step. You want to make sure you vet the quality of their work in advance, spell out in writing the work you want performed and inquire whether the contractor is properly licensed and insured. Here are some important tips when selecting a contractor:

1. Find a Handful of Contractors to Interview

Find 3-4 contractors to interview by speaking with peoplple who are in-the-know. Speak with professionals in the industry or people who actually used contractors in their home or business. Do not reach out randomly and ask on social media (because people will just give a shout out to their neighbor or friend who never worked for them). Do not reach out to the paid websites that refer contractors. Speak with people you know.

2. Get Estimates

Speak with several contractors and get written estimates from from between three to four. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when you get multiple estimates. Look at building materials, work methods, timelines and other factors that may vary by contractor. Be cautious of estimates that are too high or too low.

3. Hire Local, Licensed Contractors Whenever Possible

Local contractors are easier to contact if problems develop with the work in the future, and they are more likely to be familiar with building codes in your area. Ask the contractor for their local, physical address.

4. Check References

How has their worked turned out in the past? Do they specialize in the kind of work you want done? Check references about the quality of their products, their workmanship and their customer service.

5. Take Your Time Making a Sound Decision

Get multiple bids before making a decision. Contractors are salesmen. They can appear charming and easy-going at first. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision, particularly with regard to signing a contract. Be cautious when asked to pay a large deposit up front. Make sure to read the fine print on all estimates and contracts.

6. Check Their Insurance and Bonding

Make sure the contractor is properly insured and bonded. Ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance (COI), which should provide the name of the insurance company, policy number and policy limits the contractor carries.

6. Get Everything in Writing

Secure a comprehensive contract before work begins. Get everything in writing, and make sure the contract is clear and well written. Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign it if the project involves substantial costs.

7. Understand Your Right to Cancel

Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty.

8. Don’t Pay Up-Front

Don’t pay for the entire project before it is completed. Make sure you make checks payable to a company, not an individual and do not pay in cash.  

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Shaun Manning

Shaun's focus is on residential real estate in Fairfield, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and the surrounding counties. Licensed in New York and Connecticut, Shaun is also Commercial and Investment Rea....

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