How to Hire a Contractor & Not Get Burned

October 26, 2021
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Everyone has heard a horror home construction story where they hired a contractor, but the team failed to deliver both quality products and services on time. Naturally, you do not want to experience this kind of nightmare, so finding the right contractor you can trust is vital. After all, you want to find a team who will work on your home from start to finish.

Besides, every little delay in your project plans equates both wasted time, money, and effort. So, whether you are working on new home construction or you want to hire a contractor for renovations, you need to evaluate the team before signing and hiring them to work on your property.

A general contractor can help you with any home construction, from bathroom remodels to installing a new roof. As the experts in this field, you can expect your contractor to oversee your home project to execute every part of the plan efficiently and correctly. Knowing who to hire can make a big difference in your project’s success.

Knowing how to hire a contractor, and how to find the right one for you, will help make your project a success. Here is how you can hire a contractor to avoid getting burned!

How to Hire a Contractor Starts With Good Old Recommendations

Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues you trust. If they love their contractor and dish out glowing praises, then you can expect to have good results, too. Besides, you can see the finished product with your own eyes if you visit their property.

After getting a shortlist, cross-check the contractor’s information with NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). Look at their database to see if your prospective contractor is a part of their network. The group’s advocacy is to promote proper remodeling and construction. Hence, any contractor that is a part of this group undoubtedly complies with ethical standards.

You can expect your prospective contractor to meet building code requirements and deliver what is stipulated in your contract. Most of all, when contractors follow an ethics code, you can expect them to buy premium materials and render quality services. As a result, the chances of you getting burned are lower.

Assess the Qualifications of the General Contractor

Once you have your shortlist of potential contractors, you need to do some extra digging into facts to protect your interests. You must check the licenses and certifications of your contractor. Notably, registration requirements will vary depending on where you reside.

Double-check with your state, county, and city to see what these requirements are. From there, you can ascertain if the contractor has the accreditation and skills to get the work done. Ask for the following:

Relevant Work Experience

Find out how long they have been serving in this competitive niche. Ask how many houses they have worked in the past year. Most of all, find out if they are skilled in building the architectural theme of your home. For example, some contractors do well with classic Victorian homes, while the forte of other contractors is on contemporary and minimalist designs. Do your research to find the best fit for your needs.

Required Permits

Ask your contractor for their permits and licenses. A reputable contractor will confidently show you that they are up to standard and remain compliant with government stipulations. In contrast, a shady fly-by-the-night contractor cannot show you the paperwork. If you do not want to get burned and lose your money, stay vigilant in checking documentation, so you do not fall prey to scammers.

Talk About Insurance Coverage

You only want to work with a contractor that provides extensive insurance coverage. Construction zones can be dangerous with sharp objects like nails and dangerous equipment like cutting tools or staple guns. Find out if your potential contractor offers all the following.

  • Personal liability insurance
  • Workman’s compensation
  • Coverage for property damage

This means that if an accident happens on your property while construction is in progress, they will not bill you for any liability. This will cover injury to workers or accidents involving passersby in case they get injured. It will also provide compensation should your precious belongings, like your car, get damaged by flying debris.

Check Referrals and Ratings

Ask for the last three clients they worked with, so you can check the contractor’s reputation yourself. Then, call them and ask for their experience. Consider it a good sign if they are willing to recommend the contractor and would work with them again.

On top of that, you must take time to check the contractor’s online gallery or portfolio to assess if their workmanship is something you like. Most of all, go the extra mile and read online reviews. With the power of the internet, you will undoubtedly find ratings and detailed testimonials about a particular contractor.

Ask How They Settle Issues

You can also check if they have disputes with clients or their subcontractors with the Better Business Bureau. But, again, steer clear of contractors with many problems. As for one or two negative remarks, you can verify what happened and ask how the contractor resolved the issues.

Now is the time to utilize the power of the internet to assess the reputation of your prospective general contractor. Then, if you try to vet the right candidates, you can rest easy knowing that your home construction can proceed seamlessly, within budget, and right on your target date.

Figure Out the Specializations of the General Contractor

Though you will find many firms offering general contractor services, they are not made equal. Some companies offer specializations. For example, some concentrate on roofing while others only do painting jobs. Meanwhile, you can also find multifaceted companies that offer many things, especially if they have affiliations with other contractors.

Remember, the contractor you hired is responsible for providing equipment, labor, and materials needed to complete your project. You must also find out if their team will do everything on their own or intend to subcontract some of the work. Typically, general contractors can perform the following:

  • New home or commercial construction
  • Design and build
  • Renovation of certain rooms
  • Whole-house remodels
  • Painting
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing
  • Woodwork
  • Exterior sidings
  • Wallpapering
  • Flooring
  • Roofing

Again, it would be best to look for a contractor with a lot of experience and technical competence related to your project. Note that some contractors work independently, while others belong to a larger construction firm. You can consider both contractors. Make sure you research and ensure the contractor you signed with can meet your requirements.

Meet With the Contractor and Ask Pertinent Questions

Selecting a general contractor to work on your property is a decision you cannot be flippant on. Your primary objective is to find a good team capable enough to complete your project efficiently and diligently. So, take time to meet with your prospective candidates.

Most of all, you want to make sure the outcome is within budget and looks great as well. It is vital to work with a good team to make your home vision a reality; this will save you money in the long run because you do not deal with annoying back jobs or future repairs. These adjustments will cost more money and inconvenience your family.

Before you sign a contract, make time for a personal interview. Since you will be working with them closely in the future, you want to work with a contractor that you feel comfortable with. Meet them in person to allow your gut feelings to kick in. Your instincts will usually tell you something during your interview. Ask them the following questions to assure they are the best fit:

  • How many years have you been in this industry?
  • What kind of experience do you have with the project I have in mind?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • What is your estimated timeline to finish my project?
  • Are you willing to provide me with financial references from your suppliers and bank?
  • How many other projects will you do concurrently with my project?
  • How long have you been working with your subcontractors?
  • What can I expect if there is an issue with the project after they complete everything?

Assess how they answer the questions to see if they are confident. Their answers will also reveal their availability and reliability. Of course, you want to know how much attention they will give your project. You want a hands-on contractor who will check the work and ensure everything goes on smoothly.

Remember, your prospective contractor should answer your questions satisfactorily and put you at ease. Communication is important because you will be working with your contractor and the team for a long time.

Take Time to Visit the Job Site

It is not enough to interview your prospective contractors or take a look at the finished product in their gallery or through references. You must see their actual construction job site. The state of the construction zone will tell you a lot about the work ethics and the culture of a contractor and the team.

Check out for yourself how the contractor gets the work done. Observe and take note of the following details:

  • Is the job site safe?
  • How do they store construction materials?
  • Do they prioritize neatness and organization?
  • Are the workers courteous?
  • How careful is the team when it comes to moving around the property?

Remember, do not sign your service contract without peeking at a construction site since this gives you a clear picture of how they work and how much care they give to their projects. You need to do this part to protect yourself.

Discuss Payment Options and Contract Inclusions

Before you sign any contract, you must put everything down in black and white. Then, have a thorough discussion on your budget and discuss different payment options before they commence work. Usually, contractors have different pricing schemes based on the scope of work, timetable, and materials used.

However, make it a rule to never hand over cash. Instead, protect yourself by paying in check or with a credit card as these are traceable. You can also arrange or settle on financing agreements for larger-scale projects like a new home build. Usually, contractors that demand a big cash payment upfront have questionable reputations.

A down payment is usually typical, but there are limits to the amount a contractor can ask for. Some states even have a specific cap amount that contractors cannot go over. For the best results, check out the laws in your area.

Moreover, consider throwing out lowball bids. If it is too cheap compared to the other offers, you have to wonder what goes on. These “too-good-to-be-true” bids are red flags because you can only surmise that they are desperate to get work and cutting corners elsewhere. It is better to spend a little bit more than to work with someone you do not feel at ease with.

Most of all, compare quotes and bids from different contractors. Do not feel pressured by anyone to make a hasty decision. Home projects like this cost a lot of money, so professional contractors will understand why you need to review documents before making your final choice.

Take Your Time to Make the Decision

The key to finding the right contractor is taking your sweet time. Do not rush into this relationship because you cannot wait to get your project done. Remember, you will be spending a significant amount of money, so you cannot be hasty.

Do plenty of research and ask the right questions to feel confident with your choice and save you from dealing with problems while the project is underway. The right contractor will be skilled, professional, and inspire trust. You can begin your project when you find a contractor that meets these characteristics.

The right general contractor for you will be skilled, experienced, trustworthy and professional. Once you hire a contractor with those characteristics, your project can begin. Hiring the right team to work on your home will impact your project’s success. If you need help, call us at Eco Minded Solutions. Our team of experts will understand your needs and wants to build your dream house or renovate your existing house to your specifications.