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8 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

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Begin with family members and friends, then contact the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to find a list of members near you. Talk to a building inspector who will know which contractors are compliant with the code.

Do you conduct phone interviews?

Tom suggests that once you have compiled a list, you call each prospect and ask these questions:

  • Are they willing to take on your projects?
  • Do they want to provide financial references from banks or suppliers?
  • Do they have a list of clients who have used your services before?
  • What other projects could they be working on simultaneously?
  • How long have they been working with their subcontractors

These questions will tell you about the company’s reliability, availability, and ability to pay attention to your project. They will also reveal how smooth the work will be.

Meet Face to Face

Based on your phone interviews, choose three to four contractors to meet with you for an estimate and further discussion. You should feel comfortable asking questions and feeling at ease. Tom suggests that communication is key because the contractor will be visiting your home for many hours at a stretch. Don’t let your personality fool you. Before you hire a residential contractor in Highland Park IL, check with your state’s consumer agency and the Better Business Bureau.

Examine the facts

Once you have narrowed down your list, it’s time to put your research into action. Ask former clients for feedback and to see the final product. Tom warns that you should not rely solely on the results. You should also visit the job site to see how the contractor operates. Is the job site clean and safe? Are the workers polite and respectful of the property?

Plan, get Bids

You have a shortlist of contractors with clean track records and a responsible work ethic. It’s now time to look forward and not back at the past. Contractors will need to have a set of blueprints and a good idea of the homeowners’ expectations and budget. Ask everyone to break down the costs of materials, labor and profit margins to compare bids. Materials account for 40% of total costs. Overhead and the typical profit margin is 15 to 20%.

Establish a payment schedule

A payment schedule is another important tip when hiring contractors. A contractor’s work ethic and financial situation can be reflected in their payment schedules. They may ask for half of the bid up front, or they might be concerned that you won’t pay the remainder after they’ve completed the work. A schedule for large projects usually includes 10 percent at contract sign, three equal payments of 25% throughout work, and a check for the remaining 15% when you are satisfied that all items on the punch list have been completed.

Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide.

Tom says, “Follow the lowball offer.” “This contractor is likely cutting corners or worse, desperate to work,” says Tom. This is not a good sign for a healthy economy. Comfort should be more important than technical competence in your decision-making process. Communication between you and your contractor is the most important aspect of choosing a contractor. It’s best to spend more on a contractor you feel comfortable with.

It should be written.

A contract should detail every step of the project. It should include a payment schedule, proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments, start date and projected finish date, specific materials to be used and a requirement for the contractor to obtain lien releases (which protects you if he fails to pay his bills) from subcontractors and suppliers. Tom assures that insisting on a clear contract does not mean you are putting your trust in others. It’s about ensuring a successful renovation.

Remember that once a change has been made or a problem is discovered, the project’s cost will increase and get longer. These are the four most costly words in English. “While you’re at It ….”

Mike the One Inc.
401 S LaSalle St., Chicago, IL, 60605


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