From Margaret on August 24th, 2010 in Tools and Tips
The construction industry, necessary as it is, can also be grossly unregulated. If you want to sell your property or simply make improvements on your longtime dwelling, hiring a contractor you can trust is the most important part. Here’s how to make your remodeling experience a beautiful—and stress-free one—as well.
#1—References and licensing
If you’ve hired a contractor with any experience (and you should), they will have a list of references to contact. A red flag is if they don’t have any, of course. Do the dirty work up-front and get the complete skinny on your choice rather than relying on “the good vibes” you’re getting from them, even though chemistry is also important. Then, confirm that they are licensed, which a surprising amount of “contractors” are not.
Or, you can always have CalFinder’s referral service do the work for you. CalFinder contractors are pre-screened, licensed and insured.
#2—Don’t scoff at the higher bid.
In building, you really do get what you pay for. A higher bid (within reason) can often mean better quality materials, work ethic and craftsmanship.
#3—Be precise and specific on everything.
When you’re asking for a bid or sizing up a project, be as detailed and concrete as possible. In the same way that we’ve all gone into the hairdresser’s and said, “Oh, just a take a little off,” and came out much too cropped, speaking in vague terms (no matter how in-tune the contractor seems), will only widen the possibility for misunderstanding. Get on the same page, up front.
#4—Get it all in writing.
It’s even more important to be precise when binding things in writing. Look at every detail mentioned and make sure it is exactly what you discussed. Then, take a step back from the details of the project and look at the overall contract. Have someone else also review it before you sign.
#5—For larger projects, pay by project and not by hour.
Some payment up-front is fine and often expected, but do not pay in full until the job is completed one-hundred percent.This will eliminate your stress over whether the job is getting done most efficiently—and will entice the contractor to finish up more quickly and skillfully.