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Some home repair jobs are just too complex or dangerous for the average person to handle alone. If you’ve never hired a contractor for a major home project, repair job, or renovation—or even if you have—finding the right person for the job can be a daunting task. The wrong choice can lead to a project that is delayed, overbudget, unsatisfying, or not up to code.
Thankfully, a little time and research can ensure your home project is in the right hands. In this article, we’ll explain why a contractor is necessary for home construction repair. We’ll also share our recommendations for how to find a reliable home contractor.
A general contractor is a licensed professional who is responsible for managing and overseeing a construction project. General contractors communicate with all parties associated with a project, and they find reliable subcontractors—carpenters, electricians, and other home repair professionals—to perform the work the project requires.
Contractors for home repairs are necessary facilitators, especially for complex or large projects, but licensed contractors are also often legally required for jobs that require building permits.
Let’s assume you’re starting from scratch with a new home renovation or repair project. Here are some guidelines to follow when hiring a home improvement contractor.
Start by asking friends, neighbors, or other homeowners in your surrounding community if they recommend general contractors they have worked with in the past. These contacts can share if a contractor was communicative, consistently met deadlines, and kept the project within the agreed upon budget.
If possible, visit homes in your area that recently had work done. This can give you the chance to gauge the quality of a contractor’s work.
If recommendations from people you know are coming up short, consider speaking with building inspectors, architects, or managers of construction supply centers. These people interact with contractors regularly and can give you a more honest and informed assessment.
Once you have a list of contractors you’re considering hiring, verify their credentials. Confirm they’re licensed with your state and ask for their license numbers. Ask for documentation to confirm they have up-to-date general liability insurance and workman’s compensation.
The most reliable contractors will have stable, long-term businesses. Determine how long your potential contractors have been in operation. Ten years or more is ideal, but less can be fine as long as there are no red flags. You should also confirm a contractor has maintained the same business name. A name change is usually not a good sign.
A contractor’s contact information is also a good indicator of stability and reliability. The most reputable businesses will have a physical office and dedicated phone line. Less reputable contractors will provide cell numbers only.
An unreliable contractor will often have a history of complaints or even lawsuits. Make sure the majority of your contractor’s prior clients have been satisfied with the contractor’s work. Check that the contractor hasn’t been sued or penalized by the state for dishonest or illegal conduct.
It’s critical to interview your potential contractors, both in person and over the phone. This gives you the opportunity to ensure you’re compatible. Remember that you will be spending a great deal of time with your contractor, and you want to find someone who will respond well to you and your home’s needs.
Interviews also give you the chance to ask important questions that will inform your hiring decision. Be prepared to ask for references from past clients, including financial references. You can ask about the subcontractors they are prepared to hire, or other jobs they have going on at the same time.
Also ask about their experience in working on projects of your nature. If tree fell on your home, for instance, you will want to find a home repair damage contractor who has experience in assessing damage, removing unsalvageable materials, and repairing your home to appear as it had before. A contractor who has never worked on a damaged home is unlikely to be the best person for the job.
By this point, you should have a short list of responsible candidates. Now you can begin to review the scope of work for your project. Each contractor should provide an extremely detailed description, often including a blueprint, of exactly the work you want done.
Ensure nothing is left out of the scope of work. It should describe the extent of prep work and clean up that will be required. It should have an itemized list of materials and their costs, down to nails and paint. Try to not be enticed by low prices. Instead, look for thorough, granular breakdowns of costs.
Also make sure the contracts reflect any past verbal agreements you have discussed. And keep an eye out for unusual financial incentives or demands. A good contractor won’t pressure you into signing a contract by offering a “good deal” only if you sign right away. Similarly, reliable contractors won’t demand more than 25% or 33% upfront. The remainder of the project costs should be outline in a structured payment schedule.
This all sounds like a lot of work because, well, it is. Finding an honest, reliable contractor can take a significant amount of time and effort. It’s a lot to undertake, especially for new or inexperienced homeowners. Your hard work will pay off, however. It is much better to stress over finding the right person for the job now than it is to later discover your new deck is not up to code.
But if you do need a little guidance, a home warranty provider like Liberty Home Guard can help. We’re partnered with contractors across the nation, and we’ve vetted them to ensure they’re licensed, bonded, and insured. If you need a contractor for a project your policy covers, you can rest easy knowing that we’ve done the necessary legwork.
If you want to learn more about how a home warranty can help you on your next home project, call (866)-225-7958.
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