Finding a qualified contractor for a home improvement project can seem overwhelming unless you know what qualifications to look for. Start your contractor search by following these guidelines from Angie’s List.
Begin by clearly defining your project. Read remodeling magazines and search websites for designs and materials. Even just jotting down ideas on paper can help potential contractors understand what you want to accomplish.
To find contractors, ask family and friends for references, or check out sites like Angie’s List and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for recommendations. Also check the Better Business Bureau for any reported complaints.
Ask the contractor for names of previous clients and talk to them about their experience. Find out if they were pleased with the workmanship and whether they would hire the contractor again. If the contractor is reluctant to give names of past clients, find another one.
Make sure the contractor has an established street address and phone number where they can be reached in case of an emergency. Be wary of contractors who use a box office address or an answering service.
Obtain at least three written estimates, and ask if the contractors are licensed, bonded and insured. A reputable contractor will usually come prepared with proof of these items. Review the contract thoroughly to ensure that you understand all of the details and how change orders will be handled.
Most contractors require a 10 percent to 15 percent deposit before beginning a project. Use a credit card for payments so you have some recourse in case something goes wrong. Before signing off on the project and making the final payment, check that the work is completed to your satisfaction.
Hiring qualified contractors can provide some peace of mind throughout the project.
Your Home CRS Newsletter August 2012