How To Hire A Contractor
You have a project. You want it done right. It might be as small as digging up a stump in your yard or as ambitious as building your dream home. You are going to be hiring someone who will do a project for you that will be long lasting. You should be looking for someone who will give you a quality job at the agreed upon price. There are some basic rules no matter the size of the project.
Rule #1 The business needs to be licensed.
A contractor may have worked in the industry for years and be very knowledgeable about the work. That’s great. However, by having a license it means a contractor has met minimum requirements to perform work for which they are hired. The licensing board is there to make sure that they are performing the work in which they have expertise. Would you hire a lawyer who had not passed the bar? Same idea. The board is there to protect the interest of those who are serviced by contractors as well as the reputation of the entire industry.
Rule #2 The contractor needs to carry insurance.
There are all kinds of insurance out there related to the construction industry to empty the pockets of contractors. Every business owner has to decide what is best for their own company.
One that is certainly necessary is General Liability Insurance. You should insist that the contractor you hire provides proof of coverage. Simply ask for a Certificate of Insurance (COI) that will cover the time period of the job. Be sure to get an updated COI if the one you are provided expires while your project is ongoing. So why General Liability? It is for your protection. Let’s say you asked your contractor to cut a tree down in your yard. It falls on your house. He has no insurance. Guess who is probably going to be paying to get that fixed. YOU! Or what if instead of your house, it falls on your neighbor’s. Guess who pays now. YOU AGAIN! Get the picture?
Rule #3 You want to hire someone who has a track record.
You need to get references. Do you know some people who have had similar work done for them? Ask them who they used and how satisfied they were with the work. You can search the licensing board’s website. Licensed contractors are listed according to their fields of expertise along with contact information. Do your homework. If possible visit the current or completed projects of the recommended contractor to observe their performance.
Rule #4 Have a clear understanding of what you want done in the project.
You want to be able to convey the project requirements to the contractor before the work is started. Make sure you are getting a proposal on all work that needs to be done. If you decide later that you want additional work not included in the contract it will be a change order and it will cost you additional money.
Rule #5 The lowest price is not always the best.
You have to live with the completed work. Remember you are looking for quality but you still want the best price for that quality work. If you hire a contractor whose price is 15% lower than the next price and his work turns out to be shoddy, you could possible end up paying more than the 15% savings you had in order to have the work redone.
You should ask yourself why the proposed price is so low. Sometimes the low bid is given because the contractor does not currently have any work and just wants enough to keep the company open. They give an abnormally low price to ensure that they are awarded the project. This may end up costing you money if the contractor runs out of funds during your project. The company could also have a reputation for cutting corners. Maybe the quality of materials or work is substandard. Do some further investigation. Always get more than one bid. Normally two or three bids is sufficient.
There is nothing like the joy of having a project completed within your budget and in a timely manner. You can have this if you practice due diligence in selecting your contractor. A reputable contractor wants to do the best job possible for you because you can be the next reference for their company. So now you know. Go forth and hire.