Hiring a contractor is an important decision. How do you find someone you can trust? With so many home repair and construction scams these days, finding the right contractor for you, can be tough. We suggest keeping these 7 common mistakes in mind when hiring your contractor:
Mistake #1: Choosing the Lowest Quote
Choosing the lowest quote isn’t always the way to go. Always consider the quality of work that will be provided. Do your homework. Be sure there isn’t a reason that your quote is lower. Be sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Are they from the area or new in town? Comparing bids will reveal any shortcomings that you should be aware of.
Mistake #2: No Contract
Proceeding with no contract is one of the most common problems during construction projects. Be sure to get everything in writing at the beginning. Many contractors use a standard AIA contract for their projects. These contracts can look professional but it doesn’t mean they are designed to protect you, the homeowner. Be sure that these additional items are included in your contract:
● Estimated begin and finish dates
● Fee schedule
● Modification process
● List of all materials required
● Broom clause
● Insurance and licensing information
● Permit information
Most contractors are working on multiple projects and conversations with clients are in their heads. If changes are made during your project, get it in writing.
Mistake #3: Making a Large Deposit
Making a large deposit or paying for your project in full up front leaves you at risk of never seeing that money again. Once a payment is made to your contractor and they begin any kind of work, whether it’s starting to demo or delivering materials, they can walk away without consequence! Agree on a deposit of 10 or 20 percent of the total project. Proceed with caution if your contractor argues that they will have to order materials out of their own pocket. Agree on a payment schedule prior to beginning and be sure that payments directly reflect the work completed. Saving the largest payment until the end is a great best practice for homeowners. Be aware that paying any amount in cash means that there is no paper trail.
Mistake #4: I’m Not Sure What I Want
You may not realize it but you and your contractor will make hundreds of decisions during the course of your project. Knowing what you want and having a plan with your contractor will save you time and money. Discuss your options with your contractor before signing the agreement. Things like paint type and colour, trims and materials can all add costs so know your budget. Discussing upgrades and changes that you might want to make during the project will avoid any surprise additional costs.
Mistake #5: Time frame
Setting a finish date is an important detail to go over with your contractor. It is common that projects can go way past the estimated completion time, depending on the size. Doing a large rebuild, remodel or addition, for example where subcontractors and skilled labour schedules and even weather can all affect your project timeline. Being mindful of additions to the project and discussing progress with your contractor on a regular basis can limit how long your time frame might be extended. Have a backup plan ready for cases where you are unable to live in the home until work is completed.
Mistake #6: Providing References
Always check references! Providing references is a standard practice in any job market today. Choose 2 or 3 projects of similar size and ask to see them. Ask the homeowners questions about their experience with your contractor. Would they have him back again? Would they recommend him to their friends? Look at the fine details. Pay attention to craftsmanship and quality of work when visiting other job sites.
Mistake #7: Providing A Written Guarantee
Most contractors, include a one-year “call back” guarantee. That means that if within one-year of completion, if you find defects, the contractor will repair them free of charge. There are limits, however, to guarantees so be sure that you go over what is warrantied and what is not before completion of the project. In many cases warranties can be misinterpreted by the homeowners so ask clearly what is covered and what is not and for how long. Appliances, fixtures and items that are purchased are generally under the manufacturer warranty so be sure to ask the contractor for copies of paperwork that might be with these purchases. Keep craftsmanship and quality in mind when making choices to avoid disputes over cheap product versus contractor warranty or guarantee. Normal wear and tear or abuse is not a guarantee obligation and will most likely not be repaired free of charge.