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Choosing Contractors

The following information can be used as an outline for choosing a reputable contractor. By utilizing this information, you can potentially eliminate problems by choosing the right contractor the first time. Before committing to a construction project of any kind you should know the following.............

Questions to ask Yourself.
What work needs to be done? Will the work add value to the property? How much do you have budgeted for the work? What inconveniences will be experienced while work is being done?

Getting Bids
You should get at least three competitive bids for your project. Bids will vary from contractor to contractor. Sometimes these bids will vary dramatically. Going for the lowest bid is the basic idea but, beware of the "low ball" bid. This can result in unsatisfactory work that will cost you more in the long run. Make sure that the bids include quality materials that are guaranteed by the supplier or manufacturer. Competitive bids are free of charge and will ensure you pay a competitive price for your project.

Contractors License?
Ask to see their current license. Most states require that contractors be licensed. You should also verify licensing with your Local State License Board.

Contractors Insurance?
Ask for proof of insurance. Take the information and call the insurance company to verify that it is currently up to date. Also, if they have other employees, ask if they have workman's compensation. This is required by law. If the contractor is not insured you could be liable for any accidents. Don't put yourself in this situation.

References
Ask for references!! This can be one of your most valuable resources. You can ask specific questions about the contractor such as " Was the job done in a timely manor ?, Was the work satisfactory ?, Would you refer the contractor to friends or family ?" Also, contact local consumer agency such as the Better Business Bureau or the state registrar to see if any complaints have been filed. Numbers are listed above with the link Local State License Board.

Signing a Contract
Make sure that you understand every detail of the contract before signing. The contract should include complete information on the contractor (ex. name, address, phone numbers, license numbers, etc...) and description of the job (ex. materials, time schedule, clean up after completion, total price, payment terms, etc...). NEVER pay everything up front. The best way to pay for your project is in two separate payments called "draws". One draw in the beginning of the job and the other after the job is completed. This is a happy medium that gives you protection and at the same time allows the contractor to have enough money for needed business supplies and payroll. Sometimes in larger commercial jobs two draws would not make much sense. In this situation several draws should be made as the work progresses. The goal is to find a balance that does not put either the contractor or the client at risk. Also, any warranties need to be in writing. Don't take anything for granted. Get a copy of the contract for your records.

During and Completion
Get involved with the contractor and his crew. Tell them exactly what you want. When the job is done do a final walk through and make a punchlist. Have the contractor touch up or fix anything that is unsatisfactory. Follow Up Upon completion the job should be done up to your standards. The contract and labor warranty are very important things to remember, the contractor should guarantee the labor side of the warranty against certain defects. A one to three year warranty is not uncommon. So, You should be covered by labor (contractor warranty) and there will be a manufacturer warranty that covers the material side of the contract. Another thing to remember: if problems arise during or after the job is completed you can call the state registrar of contractors. If there is no state registrar then call the agency of the level of government that is in charge of that division. They will be able to give you numbers to assist you with your problem. The BBB. is a good number to call also but, they are generally there only to take and keep records of complaints. We want to give you numbers to call for agencies that can take action and help you directly with your problem.

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