- Ahmed Amin, P.E.
Tips for Selecting Contractors
You have now completed the Home Inspection process and closed on your new home. Congratulations as this a big step for you and your family! Now its time to address some of the issues identified on your home inspection report. Or you may just want to make some upgrades to outdated kitchens, bathrooms, painting, etc. Below are some things you should look out for when considering to hire a contractor.
First and foremost, ensure the contractor is insured and licensed for the type of work to be completed. Request for copies of both for your records. For instance, make sure to hire a licensed plumber for plumbing work, or a licensed electrician for electrical work. Try to steer clear from general contractors that say they have experience in doing it all. Not only is this a red flag, but this may be a way they are justifying to charge more. Try to pinpoint the appropriate type of contractor to hire for the job at hand; refer back to your inspection report.
Research the contractor you are using and look for referrals and online reviews. Good websites to look for reviews are Google, Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie's List, etc. I would also ask friends and family or trusted real estate professionals for referrals. In today's age I feel every contractor should have some level of online presence. Also "no reviews" is a good review of sorts as most people in today's society are quick to leave a negative review. Do not assume just because the contractor has no reviews that they are necessarily bad for the job or inexperienced.
Very important to know your budget and understand how much you are willing to spend. Make sure you plan to go over the intended costs as well; have an emergency budget if you can. I always recommend to get three to four different quotes to compare. I guarantee they will all be different prices. If one contractor gives you a very low price, I would be concerned with quality control and experience level. As they say if its too good to be true, it usually is! If you are on a tight budget you can always have the contractor just quote you for labor and assume responsibility for material. Most contractors apply a much higher cost for material to be conservative and leave profit margins high. Also, you can choose the material you want installed and shop around for sales in various hardware stores. Good tip is to research an 18 month interest free credit card and earn reward points as you go.
Before the contractor starts any work I would establish and thoroughly review the contract that is written out. Personally, I like writing my own contracts out as I can confirm everything is written out clearly. I recommend being as specific as possible with all labor and material involved. Do not assume anything will be included to avoid issues and altercations later. Also do not forget to discuss garbage removal and permit fees and responsibilities (if applicable) as part of your contract. I would also note a realistic timeline for the completion of the job in the contract.
The Actual Job
Once you select the contractor(s) you want to work with, I would have the contractor walk the job and explain to you the entire construction process. Make sure you ask questions and you understand what is to be completed. I recommend taking pictures before, during, and after the construction job is completed. If this is a big job, I recommend walking the job and requesting updates every few days or weekly. Make sure you take lots of pictures (with walls open and closed) as you may need to reference it for any disputes that will come up. Lastly, I recommend going on Google or Youtube to get an idea of how the job should be completed. The more prepared and educated you are the less likely you are to be taken advantage of. The more savvy you are, the more you be capable to ask the right questions and inspect the work.
Picking the right contractor can be a challenging task, but if you are prepared and look out for your self interests, you should be fine. Do your research and go with your gut instinct at all times. Hope this blog helps and wish you the best of luck my friends!
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