Three Steps to the Right Contractor

You have a home project in mind, but you don’t know which contractor to hire. This is a common problem, especially in a society where there are so many choices. How can you be sure you are getting the right person for the job, much less the right materials for the job to be long-lasting?

Step One:  Find a Professional

A professional can be defined in many different ways.  It may be someone who has five-star reviews from people you already know. That’s a dream, and you probably should consider hiring them if they are doing exactly the same work for you that they did for the people who reviewed them.

However, most of us can’t find someone based on reviews. There just aren’t enough people leaving reviews and how do we know if they are real anyway!  So, to find the right general contractor, you’ll want to find out if there is any professional standard for the job. 

Preferably this professional standard would be determined by an independent governmental body on the city or state level.

If you already know what product you are buying, you also want to know that the contractor is certified to install that product. If not, you may void whatever warranty comes with certain materials.  Flooring manufacturers do set some standards that installation crews must follow.  

Step Two:  The Interview

In an interview, you’ll want to ask questions about their experience and training and in any and all aspects of the job.  This may include plumbing and electrical work for a bathroom renovation. It may include window replacement if an exterior wall is involved.  You want to know that they have the qualifications to handle every aspect of your project. 

Be the exception to the rule and actually check with the references to find out if they were happy with the work.  You want to ask about personal liability insurance, worker’s compensation for their crew, and property damage coverage.  

If they will be on your lawn, you want a guarantee that they will use composite crane mats for temporary roadways and work surfaces.  There is absolutely no reason that your lawn should be destroyed by their work.

Step Three: The Contract

When you get a bid, be sure to ask lots of questions.  You don’t have to sign a standard contract. You can read it, question it, and make some demands of your own.

You should be focused on the quality of materials as well as their cost.  It is possible that you could save money by picking up the materials and cutting them out as the middleman.  This would allow you to return to the store anything that doesn’t used and thus get your money back.

Make sure that they enumerate to you and, perhaps in the contract, what steps they will take to minimize damage to the area where they will work. This should include the use of crane mats if they will be on the lawn.

Also, make sure to ask them if there is skilled work, such as plumbing or electricity, that is not covered by their contract.  If a subcontractor’s work isn’t included in their bill, you should know that.

Finally, agree on what the word “finished” means. You may need to write out your own checklist and make sure that you and the contractor agree that the work isn’t done until everything on the checklist is successfully completed to your satisfaction. 

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