If you’re in need of a contractor and you’re starting “from scratch” the whole process may be a bit intimidating and overwhelming if you’re not properly prepared. The internet and television both air a fair share of contractor horror stories. Here’s a few great tips and resources on how to prepare and initiate the process of choosing the right contractor for your project:
1. Plan exactly what you want and have a good idea what you want the outcome to look like when it’s complete.
2. Shop around. Ask family and friends for recommendations. If you must go through the advertising venue, then try to stay local. Contractors working locally have the most to lose should they not complete the job satisfactorily or abscond with your hard earned money.
Or, try using Angie’s list where thousands of consumers
Angie’s List – Where thousands of consumers share their ratings on the local contractors and service companies
they hire. You can sign up right here by clicking on the “get started” button to the right.
3. Educate yourself about the work as much as possible before you meet with the contractor. This should include understanding renovation lingo enough to interpret the estimate when you get it.
4. Choose at least 3 contractors to interview. Schedule a time to meet with each one of them separately to discuss the details of your project.
4. Verify License Information. All contractor advertisements are required to display the contractor’s state license number, however, just because it’s displayed, does not make it valid. Verify the information at www.westchestergov.com. When the contractor arrives, ask to see a driver’s license because the contractor’s license does not have a photo on it.
5. Ask the contractor about insurance. All contractors
should have general liability insurance and if they have employees, they should also have worker’s compensation insurance.
6. Verify the contractor’s business location and phone number. If they are working out of the back of a pick-up truck with a cell phone, they may be difficult to find if something goes wrong, especially after the last bill has been paid.
7. Check their references. In Westchester County you can check with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any outstanding unresolved complaints against them.
8. Don’t choose a contractor because he can do the job in the least amount of time for the least amount of money. A bid that is substantially lower should send up a red flag. It may indicate that corners will be cut or substandard materials will be used.
9. Ask if the bid is an estimate or a fixed price. An estimate means that the price could change (increase).
10. Make a list of questions to ask the contractor once you receive your bid. Make sure all your questions are answered in a manner that you understand. For more detailed information on hiring a contractor in Westchester County and what questions you should ask when you interview the contractor visit: http://consumer.westchestergov.com/home-contractors/choosing-a-contractor
To download the free brochure from the Department of Consumer Affairs about hiring a contractor: http://www.westchestergov.com/pdfs/CON_HomeImprovementTips2-10.pdf