A blog about contracting that includes the best way to hire and manage contractors
Get everything in writing.
When it comes to the issue of written contracts, make sure you take a firm stand. If a contractor doesn’t want to give you a written contract, this is usually not a good sign. You should avoid doing business with such contractors. If they are unwilling or unable to put their promises and guarantees in writing, how can you be sure that they’ll stand behind what they say?
You’ll also want to make sure that all of your agreements are included in the contract. Don’t let anyone convince you that something will be “taken care of later.” Make sure all the details are included in your agreement. Even if it’s something as simple as when your contractor will show up at your place every day, it needs to be explicitly stated in your contract. The more detailed and specific your contract is, the better protected you will be down the line if someone tries to renege on their promises or responsibilities.
Check out the contractor’s reviews.
Before you hire any contractor, make sure to find out what kind of reputation they have. The easiest way to do this is to ask them for references from past customers. Try and get in touch with their previous customers to gauge the quality of their work. Ask questions about how professional and punctual the contractor was, if there were any problems along the way, and if those problems were resolved. You can also look online for reviews written by people who’ve had experiences with that specific contractor. Google reviews are a good place to start; check out review sites like Angie’s List or Yelp as well (you might even consider going on social media). If you notice that a lot of people have had negative things to say about this contractor, think twice before hiring them—even if they’re offering an unbeatable deal.
Beware of low bids.
If you’re hiring a contractor for a major project, be wary of any bids that come in significantly below what other contractors are estimating. There are some legitimate reasons why one bid might be lower than the others—the contractor may have access to cheaper materials, for example. But there’s also a good chance that low-bidding contractor is underestimating the cost of labor or materials and will quickly run up costs after work begins.
To make sure you’re not paying too much for your project, ask at least three contractors to give you estimates. Many contractors will offer free estimates because they want your business. Before you hire someone to do the job, get a detailed estimate with all the costs itemized so that you know exactly how much each part of the project will cost.
Check that they are licensed and insured.
Before you hire a contractor, check that they are licensed and insured. You can do this by checking the contractor’s license number. Make sure the license is current and in good standing. If you’re unsure about a contractor’s licensing status, check with your state’s licensing boards or consumer affairs office.
A good contractor should be insured as well, and should provide proof of general liability insurance. This covers any property damage or personal injuries incurred on the job site, as well as any negligence claims for substandard workmanship (which may not be covered under the warranty). Check that the policy is current, and don’t hesitate to ask to see a copy of it or contact the insurance carrier directly to verify it.
If a general contractor hires subcontractors, they should also carry workers compensation insurance in case one of their workers is hurt on the job while working at your home.
Be sure to visit their job site before you hire them.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, be sure to visit their job site before you hire them. This way, you can get a feel for the contractor’s work ethic, and see their work up close and in person. Ask questions about the work they are doing: can they explain what’s going on with their project? You will want to be able to communicate with your contractor easily, since it will make your life easier when problems arise. Contractors should also be able to give you references that you can call.
Don’t pay them until you’re satisfied with the work that’s been done.
WHY? It’s simple: if you pay the contractor upfront, they have no incentive to finish the work. And even if they do come back, it may be to get more money from you. If you don’t pay them at all, they will definitely make sure the job is done correctly!
It’s better to wait until after the project is finished and you have inspected it. That way, if the job isn’t done properly or there are lingering issues that need fixing, your contractor will know he/she needs to return and get those things done before getting paid.
Always be respectful, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.
As the person who will be paying for a contractor’s services, you have a right to get the answers to any questions you have. Don’t be afraid to ask about previous experience and qualifications. If they can’t or won’t provide satisfactory answers, then they may not be the right fit. This type of information is readily available online through resources like Angie’s List and Better Business Bureau, so if your contractor is giving you the runaround here, it could be a red flag that something isn’t quite right.
Hiring a contractor can be a stressful experience if they do not do what they say they will, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your home.
Hey, home renovators! Are you ready to throw yourself in the deep end of hiring a contractor? Well, here goes. When I moved into my first apartment as a young adult, I had no clue what it meant to manage contractors. I hired one dude and was lucky he didn’t steal my belongings or leave me with a kitchen full of mold or bathroom full of wet paint chips. But after that experience I vowed never again to hire anyone for anything. Period.
When you move into an apartment (or house), your dream is to have a new home that’s all yours—but until then it’s just a place you share with other people you don’t know very well, where potential problems are minimal because everyone has their own space/dwelling unit and only comes over when they want or need something from your shared space/dwelling unit. You don’t want any strangers poking around inside your stuff while they’re here and they don’t want to see anything inside your stuff without permission first (so only bring visitors over if there’s something in it that belongs in their space/dwelling unit). This kind of sharing-space-and-stuff thing is what we call “housing”, and there are all kinds of people who will be moving their stuff into shared housing: friends, family members, students sharing apartments with other students, professionals living with others professionals but not employees… Basically any people who make up the community you’ve moved into can potentially be messengers for things within the community like viruses and pests. And when those messengers show up at your door looking for access to shared spaces/dwelling units, chances are good they’ll have someone hired by them who will hand out some kind of brochure offering services that could affect how healthy your space/dwelling unit is or look at how healthy your space/dwelling unit is…
Your job as an inhabitant is managing these messengers so they won’t come inside looking for