Adding a new room to your home, renovating a cellar, or making a few much-needed repairs? Lining up an experienced independent contractor is crucial — a home improvement undertaking that has failed will cost you money better spent elsewhere. A “pretty” advertisement is not proof a contractor executes superior workmanship. Here are some tips to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck with a company like Precision Roofing Inc without getting cheated.
First, verify with friends, neighbors, or colleagues who’ve had work done, and check over an independent contractor’s reputation with online rating web sites you trust. Get written estimates from various firms, keeping in mind the lowest bidder might not be the most skilled choice.
Finding an independent contractor
Depending on how large or difficult the project is, you may employ a:
- general independent contractor, who handles all facets of a home improvement project, including employing and managing subcontractors, acquiring building licenses, and scheduling inspections
- specialty contractor, who sets up specific products like kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures
- architect, who designs houses, add-ons, and major restorations — particularly ones calling for structural alterations.
Before You Hire an independent contractor
- Ask for appraisals. Do not automatically take the lowest estimate. Get an explanation to ascertain if there’s a cause for any deviation in costs.
- Ask questions, such as “How many projects such as mine have you completed in the past year?” “Will my contract need any licenses?” Many states and localities require licenses for construction projects, even for uncomplicated subcontracts such as decks. A skilled independent contractor can acquire all the necessary licenses prior to beginning work. You may prefer to select a contractor acquainted with the permitting process in your city, county or town.
- Ask for a list of references. A contractor should be able to give you names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least 3 previous clients with projects similar to yours. Ask each reference how long ago the project was completed and if it was completed in a timely fashion. Were they satisfied with the renovations? Were there unexpected costs? Did contractors show up on time and clean up after finishing the work? You could also ask the contractor to visit jobs currently in progress.
Types of Insurance
Contractors should have:
- worker’s compensation
- personal liability
- property damage coverage
Get copies of contractors insurance agreements and be sure they are up-to-date, or you could be declared liable for any accidental injuries and damages that happen during the contract.
Will you be employing subcontractors with this contract?
If so, be sure the subcontractors hold up-to-date insurance policies and permits, as well, if necessary.
Signs of a Scam
How could you distinguish if an independent contractor may not be honorable? You might not prefer to do business with someone who:
- knocks on your door for seeking work or offers up price reduction for receiving some other client referrals
- just happens to possess supplies leftover from a previous contract
- presses you for a quick decision
- only takes cash, expects you to pay everything up front, or advises you to borrow money from a bank
- requires you to acquire the construction licenses
- tells you that your contract will be a “demo” or offers up a lifetime guarantee or long term warranty
- does not give a work phone number in the local telephone book