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Hiring a contractor

You’ve decided to embark on your next project or construction of your new home. You’ve collected several bids from contractors. Now you must decide which contractor to choose that will best fit your needs but how?

It is best to not let price dictate your decision but should also be a factor in the decision.

Things to consider when hiring a contractor;

Are they bonded and insured for liability and property damage? Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current, or you could be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project. Will you be using subcontractors on this project? If so, make sure the subcontractors have current insurance coverage and licenses, too, if required

How long have they been in business?

Get a written estimate from several firms. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder. Ask for an explanation to see if there’s a reason for the difference in price.

Do they offer warranties covering equipment, materials and labor?

Do they offer maintenance and service after installation and after warranties have expired?

Can they provide customer references or referrals?

Information about the equipment and materials your contractor will supply and install or service

What labor they’ll provide

Cost of permits and payment of related fees when work begins request to see a copy of the permits.

Are there any grants or credits applied to the total cost?

What is the estimated project completion date?

Provide a copy of warranty and service information

Once you have agreed on a contractor get a written contract which should include the following;
• the contractor’s name, address, phone, and license number (if required)
• an estimated start and completion date
• the payment schedule for the contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers
• the contractor’s obligation to get all necessary permits
• how change orders are handled. A change order is a written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract, and could affect the project’s cost and schedule.
• a detailed list of all materials including each product’s color, model, size, and brand. If some materials will be chosen later, the contract should say who’s responsible for choosing each item and how much money is budgeted for it (this is also known as the “allowance”).
• information about warranties covering materials and workmanship, with names and addresses of who is honoring them — the contractor, distributor, or manufacturer. The length of the warranty period and any limitations also should be spelled out.
• what the contractor will and won’t do. For example, is site clean-up and trash hauling included in the price? Ask for a "broom clause" that makes the contractor responsible for all clean-up work, including spills and stains.
• any promises made during conversations or calls. If they don’t remember, you may be out of luck — or charged extra.
• a written statement of your right to cancel the contract within three business days