Hiring a Contractor - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Hiring a Contractor

It is extremely important to compare costs before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project. You should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors—bids based upon the same building specifications, materials, labor, and time needed to complete the project. 

Discuss bids in detail with each contractor, making certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices. Do not automatically choose the lowest price. One contractor's bid might be higher because the materials to be used are of a better quality or because the work will be especially thorough and, therefore, require more time and labor.

Ask the remodeling contractor for local references and find out if these customers were satisfied with the contractor's work. If possible, visit and inspect their completed projects.

Find out if the contractor is a member of a professional association which has standards or a code of ethics for remodelers.

Contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn how long a contractor has been in business and if the firm has been responsive to any complaints filed with the BBB.

Another important matter to consider before hiring a contractor deals with insurance. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of accidents. Then call to verify the contractor's insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.

Finally, check with your state, county, or city housing authority to see if the contractor must meet certain licensing and/or bonding requirements in your area. If so, make sure your contractor is properly licensed and bonded. Never pay a contractor for the entire job in advance. Your BBB recommends paying no more than 1/3 of the job up front, and many companies don't require any advance payments. You can consider offering to make payment directly to a supplier instead of paying the contractor for supplies. Make sure that if you are asked to make payments along the way, you inspect the work that has been completed and verify that you are satisfied with the work before making additional payments.

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