When it comes to tackling those big summer home improvement projects, sometimes hiring professional help is necessary. Unfortunately, finding the right contractor can be the most stressful part of the job.
The Family Handyman offers six tips for determining how to hire a contractor, and how to get the best results for your dollar.
1. Know when to ask for help. Avoid work that feels dangerous or requires skills you don’t have. That’s when you need to hire a professional. To avoid fines or damage, steer clear of any job that is required to be done by a licensed professional, such as electrical or plumbing.
2. The more the merrier. Make sure you interview at least three professionals to gauge the going rate. However, before jumping at the lowest bid, be sure to also opt for quality and durability.
3. Seek recommendations from trusted sources. Ask neighbors, friends, local lumberyards and other trusted resources for positive references. The Internet is also an invaluable resource for unbiased reviews of a business or service.
4. Ask questions, demand answers. When interviewing contractors, don’t be afraid to ask for their personal information, references from previous clients, how long they’ve been in business, an estimate, payment schedule and whether they can give a guaranteed end date.
5. Put it in writing. Once you’ve chosen the best professional for your needs, draw up a contract that specifies in writing the work to be done. The contractor should specify materials, including brand names, colors and sizes. He should include estimated costs and a maximum price for the work to be done. Have him specify how long the job will take and the specific dates and times the workers will be on the premises. Make sure to get a statement of responsibility for any damage done along with assurance of clean up after the completion of the job.
6. Don’t Get Hijacked. Don’t pay more than a quarter of the cost of the job as a down payment, and always hold back as much of the payment as you can until the project is completed to your satisfaction. The more the contractor wants up front, the greater likelihood that he has bad intentions.