I Need to Hire a Contractor. What Should I Know or Do?


Many people are opting to stay in their current homes and remodeling and not building a new home or moving into a different home. Not sure how to do the work and want to hire a contractor? Where do you find a good contractor, what questions should you ask, how much should they charge? These are all probably questions you are asking yourself.

The first thing that I tell people is ask around. The best information we can gather is from friends and family. They may have information of a person that they used that was outstanding, not so good or didn’t do what they want. So, be sure to let people know you are looking for a referral and see what they have to say.

Once you find the person you want to work with, call the Better Business Bureau. You are going to want someone who is licensed & insured so if something happens during the process, whether to them, you or someone in your family, they will be able to pay for any of the medical or correction items needed. Tell the contractor that you would like to speak with 3 different UNRELATED people they have worked for. The reason you want someone who is unrelated to your contractor, is we all know we will vouch in a positive way for our family members that need a referral. While you are on the phone with these testimonial persons, here are a few questions you may want to ask:

~Was the contractor and employees courteous & thoughtful to your home, space & your privacy.

~Do they feel the job was appropriately charged.

~Did the contractor do a good clean up job at the end of the project to make sure that the area and surrounding rooms were clean & tidy.

~Were they on time according to the schedule you agreed to upon the signing of the contract.

~Was there continual contact during the project, whether they were running late, not able to make it that day or acknowledgment was given for any other reasons/days they were not going to be able to make it.

~If the project goes over the projected finish date, did/does the contractor give discounts for your inconvenience.

Also ask to see pictures of current past projects they have done. Some contractors will also have photos of the progression of the project and you may be able to see how the space around is for cleanliness.

So know you have found your contractor, spoken with some references, now it is time to sit down with the contractor to begin your project. Make sure the contactor completely understands your time/budget you have to work with. Ask them to do a drawing of the finished project with measurements and a detailed cost outline. If you are working with more than one contractor, they may ask to see one of the other drawings you have received, DO NOT let them see the other plans. This should be something that comes with your contract. Each contractor has a different style, hourly rate & cost price. You do not want them to look at the other contractors work and say, “YEAH, WE WOULD BE RIGHT THERE WITH THEM.” What does that really mean. Also, ask the contractor if they charge and added price for a draft done earlier and if they will reasonably sell you the draft even if you decide to not hire them or go ahead with the project at that time.

So you have the plan know and you are ready to go. In the contract, have a very detailed timeline for when milestones will be done. This will keep your contractor on track and not push you to the bottom should a higher paying contract come in. Also, DO NOT pay the contractor up front for all the work. Break the payments out based on the completion of work that has been done. An example would be the contractor could get 40% when the contract is signed another 20% when the job is half done and the rest upon completion. By upon completion, make sure the contractor knows this means the space & area to be cleaned & in good repair also. Ask the contractor if he will give you a discount if you let him take pictures for his portfolio/website once the project is complete. Remember, they don’t give you anything for free, so why should you let them put your idea out there for others to copy?

The other thing you want to be sure is that the contractor can afford to buy the supplies needed without other upfront dollars from you. If you have a specific item you want to get yourself and supply for the contractor, ask them if they will give you a discount for your time & energy to have this there for them when needed. Be sure if the contractor orders something specific for you and you pay the in advance or during the job for this specific item, that the contactor informs that shop that he ordered it from you also have the right to pick it up. If the contractor does not authorize you to be able to access these items, you will never be able to pick the item up and if something should happen to the contractor, you will never get this item.

Also be sure that someone is available to be at your home at all times during the working process. The contactor may come across questions or complications that need immediate answers and if you or someone who knows what is to happen is not available, the contactor may just make an executive decision. The other thing to remember is this person may be in your home for long periods of time and unless you completely trust them, they will have access to your personal belongings. Make sure important papers, blank checks, expensive items and sentimental items are put away or locked up.

If you take the time to do your homework up front, you should get the outcome you want and have a pleasant experience. If you do not, do not be afraid to contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. Remember, if someone had complained with their unsatisfied work, you may have thought differently in hiring this person also. So do someone else a favor if your experience was not a pleasant one and let others know about the contractor and what happened.

THE SPIRITS TO MOVE is here to give quality information & ideas.

Your Minnesota Real Estate agent providing quality service whether buying, selling or relocating. Experienced in short sale & foreclosures. Learn more at http://www.VickieGylling.com.

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