Top 5 Things to Do When Hiring a Contractor
You’ve heard the stories. The contractor came, started the work, got the full payment, and then never returned to finish the job. Or how about the one where the price is set, but it is not set, until five add-ons later? We all probably know someone who has had to stay home to wait for the contractor to show up, only be stood-up, further slowing the progress of the project to that of a tortoise. Here are the top five things to do when hiring a contractor.
1. Research, Research, Research
Know the company you are hiring. Check out their web page, see if they are listed with the Better Business Bureau, and talk to your friends. Find out what their experience(s) have been with the company. Verify that proof of insurance is current and not merely an expired or forged certificate - believe me, it happens. A quick phone call or two can often save you from a lot of future headaches.
2. Interview and Inquire
Meet your prospective contractors face-to-face on your potential job site. Talk to at least three different ones. You will get a positive or negative feeling by the way they conduct their interview. Where they on-time, professional, neat? Did they offer good suggestions, references, and talk about how they work? As you walk through, outline the specifics of the job. Then, ask for references if they have not already provided some, and go their jobs in progress. See their work. See their work. See their work. This is a must.
3. Nail Down a Schedule and Price
Before you hire a contractor, talk about schedule and price. Work specific milestones and dates into your contract. Yes, you must have a contract. (See next point). Offer incentives and penalties for work completed on-time or late, respectively. Propose a regular schedule: 9-to-5, weekdays, with a one hour lunch. Most people can pull this off. A contractor should be able to have his/her crew do the same. Lastly, don't let the money get ahead of the work. Before final payment is made, get lien releases showing that all subcontractors and suppliers have been paid in full.
4. Get It In Writing
When hiring a contractor, you must have a written scope of work and contract. Details are so important. Who will be responsible for trash removal? For every single detail, such as keeping the job site clean on a daily basis, to who will clean the property once the work is finished, to who supplies the paint, materials, hardware, etc. Leave nothing to be a guessing game. The only loser in that game will be you.
5. Be Present
Daily inspections of the work should be part of your job when hiring a contractor. You certainly don’t want to show up to the site a week later only to find the floors have been laid vertically to the entry and you wanted them perpendicular, or the room that was supposed to be painted Worldly Gray, was actually painted Bracing Blue, the color you had hoped to use, instead, in your powder bath!
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