Posted on 04/04/2013
Many home improvement projects and renovations simply cannot be safely and successfully completed by home owners.
Experts say certain types of jobs shouldn't be done by even the most handy individuals. They include plumbing work such as modifying the plumbing system and rerouting sewer pipes, electrical work such as installing electric floor heating, as well as outdoor work like roofing and installing decks.
While embarking on any type of project for the home can be exciting, it's important to remember that rushing into a decision on which professional to use is often a bad idea. In fact, experts say there are certain ways to help ensure you hire a reputable contractor and end up satisfied with the finished product.
Ask for referrals
The best way to find a quality contractor is to ask friends and family members for their recommendations. Ask them about their overall experience working with the individual and make sure you visit their home to look at the quality of the completed project to ensure it meets your standards as well.
According to The Omaha World Herald, individuals should get at least three bids. Make sure that each is based on the same specifications and materials so you're comparing apples to apples, so to speak.
Do your homework
When it comes to choosing a contractor, it is the homeowner's responsibility to be thorough. Check out his or her credentials and set up in-person interviews with each person.
Prepare your questions in advance so you won't be distracted and forget to cover all your bases. Websites such as the Federal Trade Commission's have lists of potential questions to ask potential contractors. Some of the most important things to find out include how long they've been in business, whether they're licensed and insured, will they be using subcontractors and what are their start and end times each day.
These in-person interviews can greatly help you choose the right person, as they'll show how forthcoming and sincere they are. They will also help homeowners determine if they'll be able to work well with them.
You can also check a contractor out with the organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.
Ask for references
Don't just ask for people to contact, make sure you actually call them to discuss their experience with the contractor. It is also helpful to ask to see the finished work and to ask previous clients if they wish anything on their project had been done differently.
Get it in writing
Make sure to get an itemized bid and ask whether it's an estimate or a fixed price.
Once you choose a contractor, ask for a detailed written contract. The contract should be as thorough as possible and should include information on their license number, your payment schedule, estimated start and end dates, which permits will be obtained and warranties on completed work. Any verbal promises or guarantees should also be included.
Beware of paying too much before work has started
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is paying too much up-front. Experts often suggest paying a third at the beginning of the job, a third halfway through and the final third upon completion and their satisfaction.
While choosing a contractor is a time-consuming endeavor, the process is worth it when the project is successfully completed.
Those who have disputes with a contractor can choose to solve it in several different ways. According to the FTC, many disagreements can be resolved between the two parties, while others require further action. Consumers may choose to contact their state or local consumer protection office, the Better Business Bureau, a local builders' association, a dispute resolution program or a local television or newspaper reporter who covers consumer issues.
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