Friday, March 7, 2014

So You Need Some Home Repairs: Top Contractor Hiring Tips


I was talking with a couple of neighbors outside about the various ravages of Winter our homes have taken.  Of course, you can't have any sort of conversation without having the good old nightmare story popping up -- and boy, were there no shortage of those (and then I had a lightbulb Oprah "a'ha!" moment) 

Many of the following tips may seem very 'well, no duh!!', but often times when we're faced with needing work done on our homes ASAP, we will often just go for the cheapest person, the ad we find up on a free classified website, or will settle for the company that can get out as soon as possible. We can let the emotion of needing something done yesterday get in the way of actually going through the process of hiring a person or business that will get the job done right the first time...and will leave you satisfied all around.

Here are a few tips for you to consider when hiring a Contractor for any extensive renovation or home repair:

1.) Family & friends can be the best resource -- ask around if they know of an experienced Contractor that has done work for them in the past. This doesn't mean that you don't have to go through the usual screening process - it's just a good starting point when you get a thumbs up from someone you trust.

2.) Use caution when companies solicit door-to-door or just by making cold calls to your home - and if you should answer this call, don't give in to sales pressure. Many times these businesses will give you a 'deadline' to act upon a quoted price or face it going up if not taken immediately.

3.) Don't go with the first Contractor. Get at least three estimates as well as references (and check them) -- read online reviews and look on their social media networks as well, if they have them. Also look head over to the Better Business Bureau website and see if there are any filed complaints against the Contractor and, if so, how was the situation handled.

4.) Get these estimates in writing. If you have any initial phone or in-person conversations and facts/figures are discussed, no matter how minuscule you might think it is -  make sure you write it down and get initials/signature on that too.  Anytime something along those lines is discussed via phone/in person, it should also be acknowledged in writing by both parties. If you've ever seen "Judge Judy", you know that verbal agreements don't hold water...and "get everything in writing". 

5.) Your estimate should include a full breakdown of the costs involved..both labor and material. No Contractor should be charging for an estimate. If they do -- red flag. Remember that the lowest estimate is not always the best choice, nor does the highest estimate always equate with the company that will do the highest quality of work.  You have to do your homework.

6.) Make sure they are fully licensed, bonded & insured. You'll need to make sure that the Contractor has all of their certificates of insurance (both general liability and worker's comp). 

7.) When it comes to payment, the rule of thumb is 33% paid upfront.  If they ask you to pay for the entire job at once, run!

8.) Once you've settled on a Contractor, make sure the first-draft of the contract includes specifics: exact work to be performed, start and end dates, any warranties, and your agreed upon payment and schedule for payments. You'll also want to make sure there is a hold-harmless clause that exempts you from any injuries the public may incur while this work is being performed. If you've got a friend or family member who is a lawyer, it might be a good idea to have them take a look over the contract.

Having to get your home repaired - or remodeled - whether planned or not, can be a stressful situation - both financially and just in a lifestyle shift for however long work is being performed in and around our home.  When renovations and repairs are done right, it adds to your home's value...and that will mean more money in your pocket at the end of the day! 

Do you have any tips to add? Have you ever had any major renovations done to your home? How was that experience? 

xoxo,
Gigi

16 comments:

  1. I love all the tips you recommended. I especially agree with the first one of asking friends and family for names and reviews of projects. It's better knowing someone has used the contractor and that they are satisfied with the work done.

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    1. I think so too. You just have to remember to not take it out on the friend or family member if anything goes wrong on your project!! "Well YOU are the one who said he was good!!!" :-)

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  2. Thank you, looking at having our garage made into a room and adding another garage on!

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    1. More space is always a good thing!!! Good luck!

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  3. Thank you for all of these tips. Have a lovely day.

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    1. You're welcome! You too - enjoy the weekend!!

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  4. eing the wife of a contractor I can tell you wherre people make the biggest mistakes is when they hire what we call 'weekend warriors' Oftentimes they dont take out permits or they ask the homeowner to do so. Ask them if the bond is in their name or if they are working under someone elses bond. If they dont have their own- turn and run. They will also attempt to get a job on Friday and do it over the weekend when inspectors arent on the job.
    Most carpenters are great people, there is that 1percent like all else that amkes it tough to get a good one and most good ones are in demand and dont even advertise.
    I would also caution against relying on the better business bureau- its a crock. People PAY to be listed there it has nothing to do with reputation.

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    1. Great tips! I haven't ever looked at the actual business listings on BBB, but I do go on there often to see the complaints that have been filed against businesses I've needed to choose between and it has helped a lot. I was looking at a Gift Card company and one had 190 complaints...the other 18...in a year...I agree that I'm wary of anything that you can paid to get listed on (and people equate that with a thumb's up), but the complaint section can be a real eye-opener!!

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    2. I agree BBB should be taken off the list.. its not a goverment ran protection they are there own business.. actually a blackmail buisness I had a breast surgery gone wrong.. they did nothing/.. why? the surgeon is a member so they protect there memebers and place complaints filed on non* members. now I am left with a botch surgery and he has a+

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    3. Wow, that stinks. I had no idea it was such a racket the BBB was. Thanks to you & Tannawings for educating me - I'm going to edit my post as soon as I get home!!

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  5. We just had two bathrooms redone this past summer due to a water leak. The house was torn up for weeks, but the contractor (who was assigned by our insurance company) was fantastic. Always on time, cleaned up, and his guys were very polite. I also suggest you do a CRIMINAL CHECK on the employees. In Delaware there's a sex offender registry right on the web where you can see employees/employers. So important!

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    1. Agreed! Since the Adam Walsh Act, every sex offender now has to register their whereabouts - in every state! That's good, but they don't always stay up to date on it or register at one address the scoot....the criminal background check is a great idea then you can just use your common sense from there...was it a college infraction.....or is the guy you're letting in your house a 'former' armed robber?!! It sounds like you hit the jackpot on Contractors and I'm sure that made your tore up bathrooms stress a little easier to handle!!

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  6. It never hurts to have reminders. You're right we know these tips realistically but in the heat of the moment the pressure and emotion can get to us. It's important to get several estimates and think before making anything final. Good idea on getting estimates in writing.

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    1. I know a lot of people just go by the first 'reasonable' offer they see........that ends up costing them so much more in the end. It's a jungle out there!!

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  7. Great advice! I remember when we were looking for a house and had to get reno estimates on one...so difficult to find a contractor you trust!

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  8. This is great advice to keep on hand. Our bathroom shower needs a huge repair and we're going to need to get estimates - so I'll be making sure to write down the prices they give and to get their signatures with it. Thank you!

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