Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make When Hiring A Home Remodeling Contractor

A successful home remodeling or building project is dependent upon finding an ethical, reliable, competent and experienced contractor. The responsibility of hiring an ethical and experienced contractor falls on the homeowner. Doing the necessary research and background checks on the potential contractor is key to finding that contractor and avoiding an encounter with the contractor from hell. Unfortunately, many homeowners simply don’t bother with thoroughly vetting their contractor and end up in a nightmare they never imagined. As a consumer advocate for homeowners over the last 8 years I’ve identified the ten biggest mistakes homeowners make when they begin their search for a contractor.

The Homeowner:
1. Doesn’t bother to check the remodeling or building contractor’s license status at all, if just to verify that he/she has one and that it is in good standing. Checking the license is a necessary formality but it does not guarantee a favorable outcome. (Not all States require licensing)

2. Assumes that just because a building contractor is licensed in his/her state that they will be ethical, will abide by the contractors laws in their state and perform quality work that meets industry standards. Many homeowners stop here without doing further background checks on the contractor.

3. Doesn’t thoroughly interview the contractor, asking key questions about job performance, employees or subcontractors and material suppliers he uses, projects he has done similar to yours and how he handles problems when they come up – because they will come up.

4. Has an uncomfortable “gut” feeling about the contractor but ignores it and hires him/her anyways because they want to get going with their project.

5. Does not verify if the contractor maintains a permanent physical business address – not a PO Box or Postal Annex type address with a suite number – a mailing address, published phone number, fax, and cell phone or voice messaging system.

6. Doesn’t verify that the contractor has all the necessary insurance coverage – Surety Bond that is active; Workman’s Compensation Insurance if there are employees; and General Liability Insurance by contacting the companies to confirm coverage.

7. Signs a construction contract they don’t thoroughly understand and has little detail with regards to the scope of work to be done, materials used with brand names you chose included.

8. Assumes the oral agreements made when discussing the project will be part of the work performed when in fact they don’t make it into the contract and when later the homeowner questions the contractor about it, it becomes a “change order”. And the law is on the contractor’s side; anything not in the contract is considered to be a change order.

9. Gives the contractor a large sum of money up front to begin the project. Every State has specific laws relating to the amount of money the contractor can legally ask for to begin the project.

10. Hires the remodeling or building contractor based on trust alone. Trust is something that is earned. If the homeowners did their homework and background checks on the contractor, they will come to trust their contractor based on his performance, behavior, professionalism and knowledge.



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