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28 Apr

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

It’s the start of a new year and those tax returns are coming back which means homeowners will have some disposable income with which to improve their property.  But one of the most important choices you will make before you actually begin your major home renovation is choosing a contractor you can trust to complete the job.  Even if a contractor is building something for you in his or her studio, you will still need to trust them to enter your home for the installation process.  This is a major issue of trust.  So how do you find the right contractor for your job?  Here are some tips on how to find a contractor who is right for you:

  • The first and most obvious step for choosing a contractor is to do research.  It used to be that the only way you could find out about a contractor was through word of mouth with former clients or through calls to the Better Business Bureau.  Although these are still excellent ways of finding out if a contractor is reliable, they are now not the only means at your disposal.  Another excellent tool is the internet, particularly websites like Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com).  This provides client’s with an opportunity to give detailed reviews and analyses of contractors in all fields so that you can make an informed decision.  In addition to this, Angie’s List also provides several awards for top quality contracting work.  For instance, First Impressions Security Doors, which has two Arizona ROC licenses, also has earned Angie’s List prestigious Super Service Award for an outstanding seven straight years.  Only 5% of contractors receive this award, and only 1% receive it for twice consecutively.  To be the recipient seven years in a row is a testament to trust and quality that speaks volumes for this contractor.
  • Check out the contractor’s studio.  Although catalogs and pictures of past work are great, it is also important, if possible, to take a look at a physical showroom/studio of the contractor’s work so that you can view first-hand the quality of work you should expect.
  • Once you have narrowed your search down to few contractors who meet these standards for quality, look at their quality of work and start to get bids from them.  Remember that the cheapest price may not be the best indicator of work.  You also want to look at things such as the quality of materials and the turn around time for the project.  Sure the bid may be low, but if the company has so many projects in the pipeline that they cannot complete your job for months, it may be necessary to look elsewhere for a contractor.
  • Once you select a contractor, make sure that you read over the contract closely before you sign it.  Look at all of the fine print to make sure that you understand all of your obligations as well as all of the contractor’s obligations.  Include in the contract a timeline for the work to be completed.  Now understand that, while unforeseen circumstances may cause the need for flexibility with this timeline, the contract should still provide a general guide that the contractor must follow in completing the project.  It should also include a schedule for payment with the initial down-payment (usually twenty to thirty percent of the total project cost) and the final payment which should be due at the end of the project’s completion.

These are just a few of the areas that you should look for when choosing a contractor.    The choice is a tough one because it represents a major cash investment and a major issue of trust in allowing a relative stranger in your home.  That is why it is so important to do your research when selecting your contractor.