There are a lot of important legal issues to consider when hiring a contractor, and a good contract is key. But the best contract in the world will not fully protect you if you start out with someone incompetent or, worse, dishonest. So it’s important to do your homework on the contractor before thinking about a contract.
Start with friends and family. Yes, I know that’s low-tech, but the truth is that a face-to-face conversation from someone you trust beats the heck out of any on-line resource. Ask whether they were happy with the work. Would they work with this contractor again? What do they wish they knew about the contractor and the final product before they got started? And, ultimately, would they recommend the contractor?
Next, check established industry organization like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, your local Better Business Bureau and Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection. This last resource keeps a list of licensed registered contractors and offers a place to file a complaint.
Once you’ve got a list, it’s time to do your own research. Here are some questions to ask your contractor for construction:
- What experience do they working on similar projects?
- How many other jobs will they be working on during your project?
- Can I get a list of previous clients and their contact information? I suggest you get five references from people who’ve had the same kind of work done on their homes. Call all of them and ask about the contractor’s ability to stick to budget and deadlines. Ask if they kept their promises about when they’d be there and when they’d finish. Lastly, ask about how they handled changes and how willing they were to respond to any concerns.
- Will they be using subcontractors, and, if so, how long have they worked with them?
- Are they licensed and insured? Do NOT work with anyone who’s not a registered contractor or licensed contractor. Make sure you see that paperwork and keep a copy for yourself.
Don’t let your home remodeling project be something you regret starting. And don’t jump in until you’re sure the contractor is right for you. A little homework before you write that first check and sign that contract for construction will go a long way towards making your project something you’ll love to live with for years.