Choosing to remodel your home is a huge decision. After that, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is who to choose as a reliable contractor. There are horror stories out there about contractors who accepted payment for the work and then disappeared. You also hear of ones who did the job in a less than acceptable fashion. You don’t want to end up with one of these stories of your own, so consider these things before settling on a contractor:
Have a Plan and Budget In Place
One of the first things that you need to do before you start shopping around for a contractor is to know what you want. Whether it’s a general idea, some sketches, or a full engineer’s work up, you need a plan. The contractor needs these details in order to give you a price. You also need to have a budget set, so that your contractor candidates know what boundaries they should work within.
Check Reviews and Get References
Before you look in the phone book or head to Angie’s List, first ask your family, friends, and neighbors, if they know of a good contractor. It’s best if there’s someone that they’ve used in the past, not a friend who does some construction work now and then.
Once you have their input, run a few web searches on that person’s name. Angie’s List is a good source, but you might also check reviews on Google or Yahoo. Additionally, you should check local court records to ensure that this person hasn’t disappeared during an uncompleted job before. Once you’ve done a little research on your contractor, ask for references. This should be the final step before your decision is made.
Don’t Pay for Everything Up Front
This is the number one mistake most people with contractor complaints end up making. They give the contractor all the money up front, and then never see him again. There are too many people out there willing to cheat others that you don’t want to ever do this. Set up a payment plan in writing that stipulates how much your contractor gets paid and when those payments are made. The final amount due should never be paid before the work is completed.
Sign a contract
Some contractors have standard contracts ready to be signed. They might have blanks to be filled in with the specifics of your project, but these documents should contain the following: prices (both for the labor and a breakdown of materials), a time schedule showing when the various phases of your project will be done, and something in case of contingencies. If the contractor that you choose does not have a standard contractor, this isn’t always a red flag, but you should proceed cautiously and come up with a contract of your own.