Hiring a contractor really isn’t that different from hiring an employee or picking a restaurant: do the homework and check out the reviews. Picking the first landscaping or roofing company in the phonebook could be lucky and turn out fine, or it could become a living nightmare of overspent budgets, low quality work, and an underestimated timeline.
If you need help choosing the right contractor, here are a few tips to get started:
Ask for an Itemized Bid
When first assessing the job, a company will supply you with an estimated figure on cost depending on the amount of hours, materials, and labor costs involved. Avoid companies that underestimate the cost in order to get the job and then end up using the “allowances” to increase the price of the job. Make sure you know your personal budget and ask for an itemized, instead of general, bid on exactly what is costing what and how long it takes. Ask several companies for itemized bids and compare which one will fit your budget and get the job done right.
Establish Regular Communication
Problems start whenever there is a lack of communication, especially when your money and your home are involved. Don’t be timid and trust they will get the job done someday; set up regular appointments to oversee the progress and costs of whatever project is underway.
Keep and Updated Contract
After the contractor has been hired and work goes under way, it is very important to expect changes and developments along the way. A contractor may call or talk to you about the problems and possible solutions, but make sure to get it all in writing as to what exact services and materials will be necessary. This can help you both avoid disagreements later when misunderstandings come up about the contract and payment.
Check the Work and Pay as You Go
You are responsible for keeping the contractor accountable for the work done. As the employer, you must check all the work as it progresses against any blueprints or receipts for materials. If some part of the work was done shabbily, you will need to point out the mistakes and ask for repairs. This is important when considering payment schedules. Some contractors require different payment schedules, so if they ask for three installments, make sure to pay after you have checked the work done up to that point. If necessary, you could use the payment as leverage to make sure the job is completed accurately.