As you plan your home renovation or home remodeling project, choosing the right contractor for the job is a critical first step in the process of planning your project. To ensure everything is done the right way, you want to be sure you’ve vetted the quality of their work. But, more importantly, you should document the work you need done and inquire whether the contractor is properly licensed and insured in case something goes wrong.
Choosing the right contractor for your project is critically important to ensure everything is done properly so you can achieve your goals. Here are five things to do before choosing a contractor for your home remodeling or renovation project.
1. Hire a Licensed and Insured Contractor
Always ask a potential contractor to see a copy of their contractors license and liability insurance. Make sure the license hasn’t expired. Also, ensure that their insurance coverage is equal to or greater than the cost of your project. In their article, “Hiring A Contractor Checklists and Tips,” Travelers Insurances Company suggests:
You can contact the insurance company directly to verify the coverage and make sure the policy is still in effect. Do not do business with a contractor who does not carry the appropriate insurance coverage. If the contractor is not insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
It is important to do as much as you can to guarantee that the contractor you hire is reputable. Start by asking friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. Next, read reviews and think about what people have to say about each home contractor that you are considering.
2. Get Everything in Writing
When you’re remodeling or renovating your home, it is important to take the time to ensure your goals are clear defined, documented, and understood by both parties. For this reason, you should secure a comprehensive and written contract before work begins. Get everything in writing. Be sure the contract is clear and well written. In addition, consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign it, especially if the project involves substantial costs. At the very minimum, your scope of work and contract should include the following details:
- A description of the work that you want done
- The materials to be used during construction
- The projects start date
- Work hours on the job site during the day
- The projects tentative completion date
- Expectations regarding delays caused by weather
- Cleanup and removal of debris from the job site
- A payment schedule. Standard options usually include: one-half upfront and one-third when work is partially completed, and the balance due upon completion of repairs.
- Clear statements regarding any applicable guarantees or warranties. These should be written into the contract and clearly state what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee, and how long the guarantee is valid.
3. Discuss the Financial Expectations
Neither party should assume payment will be made in full at the start or at the end of the project. Make sure you discuss this clearly with the contractor ahead of time (before the project begins) and get it in writing. It’s important not to make your payment in full at the onset of the project so that you have some level of control throughout its completion.
4. Understand Your Right to Cancel
In some cases, federal law may require a “cooling off” period. The is a period of time in which you can cancel the contract without penalty. Always inquire with the Federal Trade Commission and your state laws to understand your rights. Always follow the applicable procedures during the cooling off period. And, in the unfortunate case that you do need to cancel, always sending a notice of cancellation by email and by registered mail to cover your bases.
5. Ask the Contractor About Their Process and Anticipate Delays
Delays always happen. Often times, these delays may not be your contractors fault and/or beyond their control. Although you should have a timeline outlined in your contract, things like the weather may prevent the work from remaining on schedule. So, be realistic and willing to reasonably adjust your expectations accordingly.
In addition, most reputable contractors that perform home renovations or remodeling also have a documented process that you can follow during your project. Always ensure you understand what stage of the process your project is in and if this is unclear, refer to the contractors process when asking questions.
If you need to hire a home contractor, you’ll want to pick someone reliable. Try and get recommendations or read a few online reviews to help you decide who to pick. Get everything in writing so that everyone is on the same page. Make your payments according to a prearranged plan.