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Choosing the Right One: 5 Things to Ask About When Choosing a Contractor for Your Home

By Malcolm Rivers

Check Their Complaint History

The Better Business Bureau and other consumer affairs agencies keep records of complaints of particular contractors which are available to aid in making your decisions. Many contractors will have one to two complaints but contractors with 3-4 or more complaints may have issues worth looking further into. Keep the nature of the complaints in mind as well; issues with costs, professionalism and work expectations may entail different things than problems with materials and the like. Always keep your options as open as possible so that you're in a position to make the best choices.

Licensure and Industry Organizations

Some states, cities and counties license contractors for particular types of work, a process usually involving examinations to measure competency. Other areas may just require contractors to register, meaning paying a recurring, or onetime, fee. Make sure to check with your local government in regard to their requirements before considering a contractor. Additionally, many contractors who are more well regarded may be members of or certified by particular industry groups who, at times, may try and resolve possible disagreements between contractors and those they work with which may give you further recourse.

References

When checking references there are several questions worth asking. Keep in mind that some of the answers to these questions are based on your homeowner's insurance policy, so be sure to check your policy before hiring anyone to work on your home.

  • Are they insured and licensed?
  • Are they flexible with scheduling and work assignments?
  • Was the job finished on schedule? If not, what was the reason?
  • Was the contractor communicative and professional?
  • Was the work site or area clean after work was completed each day?

General Contractors

The size of the job which you're undertaking may dictate that you need a general contractor to handle scheduling, permits, and supplies. General contractors may have discounted deals with suppliers and may also be able to exert leverage over subcontractors more effectively. There's no promise that these deals and this leverage will translate into less of your money on the table, so be sure to be carefully construct and evaluate your contract.

Contracts

When hiring a contractor make sure that your contract with them addresses several important points.

  • A timetable for the work being done, including payment scheduling
  • Specifics regarding necessary materials and equipment, clean up and demolition provisions
  • Regulations and restrictions regarding lawsuits should you have a dispute to settle
  • What may not be included in the contract as part of the contractors costs or agreed upon workload

Don't forget that this is just an overview of the five most important considerations when hiring a contractor for your home. Your home is one of your most important possessions so be sure to do as much research as you can when hiring a contractor and weigh your options to get the best deal for you and your family.

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About The Author

In 2005, Malcolm attended Harvard University where he received his Bachelors of Arts...

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