Hiring a Contractor

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Real Estate

Hiring a Contractor? Here are some tips:

1. Check with friends, neighbors, trade associations, and home improvement stores for referrals. Your neighborhood Facebook page or Next Door website for your neighborhood usually has a reference section.  Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

2. Get three bids, then negotiate.  Question the extremely low bids.

3. Make sure you know if it is a fixed price bid (job-site changes are re-negotiated) or a cost-plus bid (contractor does the job, then submits receipts along with new costs).

4. Don’t hire someone who “just completed work in your area” and offers you a bargain, that is the oldest trick in the book.

5. Avoid contractors with no street address. Check phone numbers.  

6. Don't give in to high-pressure tactics.

7. Get written estimates and references, and check the references.

8. Get your own loan; never pay in-full up front; arrange for payments upon completion of defined amounts of work. Some laws limit the money a contractor can request up front.

9. Have the contractor pull the proper permits (or you can do it) and make sure codes are followed.

10. Ask if the contractor has liability insurance.  Do not hire someone without it!

11. Make sure you are satisfied before signing the contract and making final payment. (Be aware that some states allow subcontractors and suppliers to file a lien against your home if you hold payment unnecessarily.) Also, if your contractor used a subcontractor, make sure he was paid as well before you issue the final payment.