A Few Tips on Dealing with Contractors
Whether it’s a remodeled kitchen, a new patio or any reconstruction due to wind, water or fire damage, working with contractors can be tricky. Contractors (and deposits) that disappear, shoddy craftsmanship and/or a lack of permits can cause enough financial and legal headaches to consider joining the “tiny house” movement or, at the very least, leaving well enough alone. However, you can take certain steps to avoid remodeling disasters.
Avoid contractors who solicit door to door.
While this may seem obvious, more people fall for this than you may think. When someone comes knocking with a discount for a new roof, driveway, or other high-ticket job that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The contractor may take the money and not come back, or if they do return, it may be to provide cosmetically appealing work that will crack or deteriorate within a few weeks.
These can come from friends, family, resources such as Angie’s List and the Internet. The BBB is another good source of information, as is the local Chamber of Commerce. Real estate agents can also be a great and valued resource.
Get at least three estimates and check their references.
Failing to follow up with references can cause trouble down the road, especially if the contractor has a history of inconsistent behavior. Also, the number of years a company has been in business is another indicator of reliability.
If a contractor gives off bad vibes….don’t go there.
Meet with contractors before signing any contract. You will definitely need a level of comfort with them, as well as a sense of compatibility.
Pay no more than 10 percent in advance, up to a maximum of $1,000.
The contractor may sound convincing when explaining that 30 to 50 percent is needed up front for equipment, materials and subcontractors. But while a small deposit may be essential, if the contractor is a professional in good standing, suppliers will provide various items on credit.
Make sure all permits, licenses and other paperwork are in order.
Check with local officials to see if permits and inspections are required for the project, but it is up to the contractor to obtain them. Additionally, the contractor may need certain licenses, registrations, and types of insurance, as well as being bonded. These should also be verified.
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