How to Choose a Contractor


How to Choose a Contractor. When it comes to successful home renovation projects, choosing the right contractor for the job is an important first step. Whether you're remodeling a bathroom, building a deck, laying a wood floor or painting your house, slow down and do some research. If you don't choose the right contractor, you could end up disappointed in the work, feeling swindled and needing someone else to finish the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Referrals
  • Copies of Contractor's Certification, Worker's Compensation status and Liability Insurance certificate
  • References
  • Written estimate
  • Contract
  • Get a referral from someone you know. People love updating their homes so you should have no trouble coming up with a list of contractors to call.

  • Hire a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need done. Someone you hire to install wood flooring or to build a deck should be a carpentry contractor, while someone you hire to install recessed lighting in your kitchen should be an electrician. There are many different trade certifications, so be sure to check the title on your contractor's certification to make sure he or she is a specialist.

  • Check licenses and insurance with your city's Contractors Licensing Board. Ask the tradesman for copies of the following documents: Contractor's Certification, Worker's Compensation status and Liability Insurance certificate. A reputable contractor will have no problem providing copies of these documents.

  • Get at least three references for your contractor and call them. The contractor will likely give you references who had positive experiences, so be sure to ask them specific questions about workmanship that are important to you. You might be concerned about whether the contractor cleaned up his work area and kept to his time line or whether the final invoice matched the estimate.

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if complaints have ever been filed or are outstanding against the contractor.

  • Request a written estimate. Any contractor who does not provide you with a written estimate should be crossed off your list immediately. Get at least three estimates and then compare prices with what is included. Remember the lowest bidder is not always the best.

  • Sign a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out all the steps the contractor will take from beginning to end of your job, what supplies are included, the payment schedule and the time line for the project.

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