What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated July 29, 2020)
The general purpose of hiring a contractor is to make your project go as smoothly and easily as possible. However, if you don't know what to look for when hiring a contractor you can easily end up in the middle of a financial nightmare. Here are a few guidelines that you can use to ensure you are able to hire someone that knows what they are doing.
- Are they licensed? It may be tempting to ask your best friend's cousin to do the work for you, but if they aren't licensed you need to go with someone else. Being licensed also means that the contractor is used to working with the government and ensuring that the work they are doing is actually legal and according to code. So ask to see their license, and check to make sure that it is still valid. At this time, you should make sure that the contractor has some kind of insurance to cover accidents (such as Great Aunt Muriel's vase being broken).
- References. All good contractors will have a list of past clients (not friends and family) that can attest to their skills on the job. This list should have no fewer than ten names on it, all with current contact information. Furthermore, this reference list should have a brief description of the work that they did, and how long it took.
- Check them out. Besides checking into the reference list, you should also look to see what their reputation is with the world at large. One way that you can do this is to check with the local branch of the Better Business Bureau, as well as the city inspectors to see what they have to say. A good contractor may have some complaints against them, but they would have been addressed quickly and without too much contention.
- Get it in writing. All reputable contractors should be willing, and even eager to have a contract that details the work that is being done. In fact, it is actually the responsibility of the contractor to provide that contract, and it should (in detail) the work that is being agreed to, who will be doing it, what types of supplies will be used, any sub-contractors that will be used, and the names of all employees who will be on your property. Furthermore, the contract should also have a list of what the payment schedule should look like, as well a stipulation that says you will not pay for any additional costs beyond what you were quoted unless you have agreed to it in writing.
- Set a few terms. Prior to signing your contract, you should take the time to think out a few terms and conditions that you want included. For example, do you want them to show up before 6:00 am, or should they wait till after you have left for work? What happens if they show up late for work that day, and don't let you know? Do you want to say that one of the homeowners need to be on hand for any work to be done on the home?
When you find a contractor that is willing to meet with, and abide with, these guidelines you know that you have found a decent contractor. Basically, each of these guidelines is a method that you can use to ensure that you are holding the contractor responsible for what is happening on the job site. Furthermore, if they are willing to agree to these conditions you know that they are willing to stand by their work.