Whether you want to spruce up your kitchen or add a new room, working with a home improvement contractor is necessary. However, it is also imperative that you choose a contractor wisely. Pick the right contractor, and you can avoid cost overruns or delays in finishing your project.
Get Reviews and References
Don’t hire a home improvement contractor without learning as much as you can about the company first. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a contractor. If they have someone to recommend, ask to see the work that contractor did on their homes.
You can also check out websites with listings of contractors and reviews from real clients. One of the best-known sites is Angie’s List, which features unbiased reviews on local contractors, and it shows which ones have the highest ratings. You can also check to see if the contractor is a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). NARI contractors are required to follow a code of ethics and practice standards.
When you have a short list of contractors to choose from, ask them for a list of references from past clients. You want to verify their work with several past customers — never just one. You also want to be certain their company is in good financial health and that there isn’t a risk the contractor will go bankrupt or shut down in the middle of working on your home, so ask which financial institutions they work with for their funding.
Check the License
If you will end up paying the contractor more than $500 for the job, the city requires you to work with a home improvement contractor who has an active license. Licensed contractors are required to show the city proof of liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and automobile liability insurance to qualify for a license.
Contractors need to renew the license yearly, which means it’s unlikely the insurance will have lapsed between the time they apply and when you decide to hire them. The Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections has a contractor database that you can use to double-check that the contractor you want to work with has met these requirements.
Get a Quote
Ask each contractor you’re considering for a bid or quote, but never just accept a single sum without knowing the details. Ask the contractor to break the costs down for you, so that you can see exactly where your money is going. Ideally, you want the quote to be a fixed amount, not an estimate that could easily change later on. Be sure to ask the contractor if he’s giving you a definite cost or just a rough estimate.
Hiring a contractor is as much about the interpersonal relationship as it is about getting someone to make your home amazing. Choose a contractor who comes highly recommended, offers a fair price, and makes you feel comfortable, as you’ll be letting them into your home on a daily basis. Once you’ve found someone you can work with, get everything in writing and don’t make the final payment until you’re completely happy with the work.
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