If you are considering hiring a contractor to do work in (or outside!) your home, consider the following tips:
1. Start with research. This includes asking friends and family for recommendations, as well as checking out more unusual avenues for recommendations like lumber yards, building contractors, and others in the business. After you have recommendations call around and ask some key questions and then meet face to face with several contractors before choosing one.
2. Investigate. When you have narrowed your list down, check with your local Better Business Bureau and/or consumer protection agency to see if there is any history of disputes. You can also ask for a list of recommendations when interviewing contractors and call to check them. You can even ask some if you see the work first hand.
3. Get bids. Get bids from several contractors and ask for a breakdown of material cost, labor cost, other expenses, and profit. Don’t less price guide you however, because those who throw out a low-ball bid are probably desperate which isn’t a good sign. Additionally, assess your comfort level with each contractor. In the end it may be worth it to pay a little bit more for someone you can communicate well with.
4. Set a payment schedule. A contractor that asks for a huge chunk of the cost up front may have financial problems or worry that you will not pay your balance once you see the work, so asking for a payment schedule up front is one way you can see about the contractor’s work ethic. Typically you should expect to pay about ten percent up front, the final 10-20 percent when the project is completed and the rest spaced out in payments (usually 2-4) over the course of the work.
5. Get it in writing. When you’ve decided on a contractor, get everything in writing, including the payment schedule, start date, projected completion date, list of materials and products to be used, proof of insurances, and anything else you need or discussed.
Thinking of buying or selling a home in Sussex County? Give us a call at Cooper Realty Associates and put us to work for you – 302-856-6434.