Has the ongoing pandemic left you with more time on your hands and spent inside the home? Maybe even thinking about a few DIY (Do It Yourself) projects like adding a four season’s room or finishing that basement? Did you know home improvement and repair spending rose by nearly 3% to $420 billion in 2020 according to a recent study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS). If you are not fond of putting in the extra effort and sweat into your own remodeling or repairs, we have some great tips on finding a reliable home contractor for your next big project.
1. Ask for Recommendations and Referrals: Friends and family are some of the best people who you can trust to get feedback and recommendations from. Also, building inspectors may know of reliable renovation contractors who routinely meet building code requirements. It may also be an advantage to read reviews on their website, google, Facebook, Angi, BBB, etc.
2. Do Phone Interviews: After you gather a list of potential prospects call and ask questions, refer to the sample questions list from This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva:
- Do they take on projects of your size?
- Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
- Can they give you a list of previous clients?
- How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
- How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
3. Look at Credentials: Prior to meeting contractors, check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to make sure the contractor you plan on hiring does not have a history of disputes with their clients or subcontractors. Also, look for a contractor who has knowledge and experience with your project (Who knows what they are talking about) and leave you with peace of mind not feeling anxious or worried. Don’t forget to look for credentials such as designations from any professional association, any specific certification in their line of work and required licenses from the state or city municipalities.
4. Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide: Sometimes it is best to look around for more than one bid or quote. Some low bids could be financially better for your pocket but could mean a multiple of things such as low-quality supplies or materials, quick but low-quality work and eventually lead to contractors cutting corners to get your project done sooner to collect payment. What you want to do is hire a contactor who you can trust, is transparent throughout the whole process, and who you are comfortable with. Some projects may estimate to be completed on a specific date and some delays may arise. Make sure your contractor effectively communicates these changes promptly to you, then for you to be surprised only to find out your remodel would be delayed two or three weeks out or worse months.
5. Set a Payment Schedule: Have you already set a budget or have funds set aside for your renovations? Make sure you and your contractor have a clear understanding and agreement to your payment plan. Get the payment plan in writing and obtain copies of your payment receipts throughout the whole project. For insurance purposes, some companies may require a copy of receipt to show proof of a completed new roof or specific repairs have been done for additional items that are covered on a homeowner’s policy such as a storage building or outdoor shed.
6. Finalize the Contract in Writing: After selecting a contractor, HGTV and This Old House recommends getting the contract or all the documents in WRITING. Ask yourself, does this contract look professional? Scrutinize the contract. Does it seem fair and balanced? And make sure the legal agreement includes the following items:
· a bid price/quote and payment schedule
· specifics about the scope of work
· the site plans
· a sequential schedule of primary construction tasks
· a change-order clause
· a written procedural list for close-out
· an express limited warranty
· a clause about dispute resolution
· and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he/she doesn't pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers.
· proof of liability insurance and worker's compensation payments
** An important reminder, with any recent renovation or upgrade to the home there may need to be adjustments made to your homeowner’s insurance policy. New furnaces, additions to the home, roofs, etc. should all be updated directly to your independent agent to make sure your recent investment is protected appropriately. For example, finishing a basement usually leads to an adjustment in sewer or water back up coverage or depending on your current coverage, a new roof may mean an adjustment to better replacement cost coverage instead of actual cash value.
Contact Paroubek Insurance to learn more about the impact of home renovations and repairs on your homeowner’s insurance policy. Sources: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/21017791/top-8-pro-tips-on-how-to-hire-a-contractor