What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor
Thinking about starting that renovation project? If you ask around, chances are most people will have a contractor horror story to share. Use these tips before you begin hiring a contractor to make sure your contractor is reliable, trustworthy and competent:
Get Recommendations – Ask friends and family for the names of contractors they know and trust. Another potential source of recommendations is your local building center or home inspector.
Confirm Professional Licensing – Verify the contractor is licensed and registered with the state. Most states license electrical and plumbing contractors, and over half license contractors, remodelers and/or specialty contractors. This is so important when hiring a contractor…you want them liscensed!
Check with a Local Trade Association – Contact the local trade or homebuilders’ association to see if the contractor has a good reputation in the industry.
Ask for References – Check both past project and financial references. Find out from suppliers and sub-trades if the contractor pays promptly, as you could be held liable for unpaid bills should your contractor default.
Do a Quick Internet Search – Google the contractor’s name and business name to see if there have been any complaints registered with sites like Angie’s List. It’s also a good idea to contact your local consumer protection agency. This is a great way to check the reliability of a contractor when you are hiring a contractor.
Verify Insurance Coverage – Ask for copies of insurance documents and confirm the coverage is current. Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage, as you may be held liable for injury or damages.
Evaluate Bids – Get bids from your shortlist of candidates and compare them carefully, looking for missing line items, detailed materials specifications, payment terms, cancellation clause, and warranties. You want to compare apple to apples.