Hiring a contractor

contractor renovationMagnifying glass

When it comes to owning a property, paying off home loans isn’t the last expense owners will experience. At some point, you will likely want to make repairs or renovations to your property, and unless you plan on undertaking these projects yourself, you’ll want to hire a contractor. When you decide to let someone work on your home, it’s important to know what you’re getting into, especially when you’re paying that person. Taking the time to find the right contractor and understand how the process works will not only save you money and stress, it will give you peace of mind.

Plan
Before you hire a contractor, make sure you have a solid idea of what kind of work you want done. It won’t help matters to approach a contractor with vague ideas. Once you know what you’re in the market for, you can narrow your search for contractors who specialize in that type of work.

Hiring
When hiring a contractor, it’s important to make sure they’re well-qualified. Speak with family and friends to get the names of dependable contractors. Search the internet and look up reviews of the work they’ve done. Find out how long they’ve been in the business. Make sure they have the proper licenses. See if they specialize in certain kind of work, or if they have done similar work in the past. 

If for whatever reason a contractor seems suspicious or less than legitimate, simply walk away. Something as important as work on your home should be handled by a professional. Never let a cheap price get in the way of quality craftsmanship.

Estimates
A good contractor should be able to give you an estimate of what their work will cost. While this figure may be higher or lower once the job is completed, you should have a general idea of the expenses involved. Estimates should involve detailed specifications and adequate information to let you make an informed decision. There’s no limit on the number of estimates you can receive, so take your time until you find one that offers the best value. However, keep in mind that an estimate is by no means final, so always be ready to pay more if complications arise.

Contract
Always be sure to get your agreement in writing. Legitimate contractors will be happy to sign contracts, as they protect both parties involved. Your contract should be as specific as possible, covering all pertinent information in your agreement, from costs to contingencies. If you’re unsure about a contract, have it changed until it suits your needs. There’s no point in signing a binding document you’re not sure about.

Completion
Once a job is completed, be sure to inspect the work. If you find problems, bring them to the contractor’s attention. Some contractors may ask that you sign a certificate of completion. Make sure you’re satisfied with the work before doing so. If the job is not done to your agreed specifications, full payment should be withheld until a resolution is found.

Holdbacks
Holdbacks are when partial payment for a job is delayed. This can happen if a project is incomplete or needs to be corrected in some way. Holding back a portion of the contractor’s payment, usually based on the cost of the items that need to be fixed, is perfectly reasonable. Holdbacks can also occur when work is interrupted due to seasonal factors. If a painting job is delayed because of rain, holding back payment for this work until it is done is a good way to ensure that your project is completed to the proper standards.

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