Finding the right contractor to do work on your home can be daunting. Generally, most homeowners conduct 2-3 interviews before choosing a contractor. Factors such as price, materials, personality, professionalism and presentation play a huge role but rarely the important aspects generally covered in a contract are discussed.
Contracts are beneficial for many reasons. Importantly, they define what you can expect from your contractor. They also serve to define the scope of work to be performed and can help to alleviates problems in a situation where reality and expectations are in conflict with one another.
Before signing with a contractor, consider these tips:
- Contract: A contract details the agreement that has been made and protects the parties involved. Without a contract you have nothing to fall back on if the work if there is any question regarding the work to be performed. The contract should also list exclusions; things that may need to be considered once work begins should an unexpected problem arise as he is working on your home. An example might be finding asbestos or black mold; items that can’t be discerned before work begins.
- License: Check your local regulations to determine if a license is required to do the work you require. Some locales have fewer restrictions and requirements so find out what it takes to get a license in your area to determine if your potential contractor appears to have the skills in addition to the license.
- Insurance: Safety is top of mind for most contractors as their livelihood depends on good health. Nonetheless, injuries do occur. Ask the contractor if he or she has proper insurance so you are not held liable should an injury occur.
- Scope of Work: The best conversations between a contractor and homeowner won’t resolve the problem if one should arise. Get everything in writing before the work begins so you know exactly what to expect. Details are vital so there is no misunderstanding once work has begun.
- Duration of Work: Get a written estimate of how long the project should take and any reasons the project could be delayed. Having a timeline and knowing what to expect will help you manage the stress if progress slows.
- Payment: Terms vary by the job and by contractor. Some parties will require a large deposit up front with balance due at the end of the job. Others may require payments at various stages of the project. Be sure you are clear and keep accurate records that match the payment terms you agree to.
- Warranty: Your contractor should warrant his or her work. Be sure to get recommendations, know where to find him after the work is complete and keep a copy of the warranty in the event something needs to be addressed at a later time.