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Guidelines for Picking a Home Improvement Contractor

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Adding home improvements to your home can be an exciting and worthwhile endeavor. It can also increase the value of your home. Before you begin, it is important to find a qualified home improvement contractor.

You can find a contractor through the Yellow Pages, on the Internet, through local newspapers and ads or through your network of friends and neighbors.

It is important to get proposals from a few contractors before selecting one. Do not pick the lowest bidder unless absolutely necessary due to budget. If a bid is more than 20% below the others, be concerned and ask them why. In some cases, the low bidding contractor may be desperate for your business and your deposit in order to finish another job.

Before hiring the contractor, call the local Better Business Bureau and see if there are any complaints filed against the contractor that you are considering hiring.

Before making a decision, ask the contractor that you are considering hiring the following questions:

  1. How long have they have been in business.

  2. How long have they been in the area that you live in.

  3. Ask them for a list of their major suppliers.

  4. Be concerned about those who only have a post office box as a place of business.

  5. Be concerned about those who do not have any ongoing supplier relationships.

  6. Ask to see their contractor's license. To make sure that they have the right license, call your local building department, mayor, city manager, or county executive's office.

  7. Ask the contractor for references and call the references. Ask former clients what type of work was done.

  8. Ask if the previous jobs were completed in a timely manner and on budget.

  9. Ask their past clients if they would use that contractor again.

  10. Ask their past clients if the contractor maintained a clean and safe work area and whether its workmen showed up when scheduled.

  11. Find out what kind of insurance the contractor has--including worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability insurance. This is required by the state. If they don't have the proper insurance, you (the customer) could be liable for injuries on the job and you could be sued if anyone is hurt while on the job.

Look over the Contract carefully. Before you sign anything, including a bid, make sure you agree to all the terms.

Contracts should include everything that has been agreed to by both of you. Make sure that contract includes the type and the brand name of materials to be used. This will help protect you from the substitution of inferior quality materials.

Once the contract is signed, keep a file on the home improvement job, including contracts, changer orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, canceled checks, and any other correspondence between you and the contractor, or subcontractors.

Before you write a check to the contractor, make sure that everything you are paying for was listed in the contract that you signed.

Before you sign off on the job as satisfactory, walk through the job and make sure everything was done that was stated on the contract that would be done.

If you do not make sure you are dealing with a reputable contractor, you could end up paying for costly repairs.

It is your home and your money so it is important to be careful in choosing your contractor wisely.

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