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How to Find and Hire a Contractor

How to find and hire a contractor
Sometimes it makes sense to hire a contractor rather than take on a project yourself. But it is important to find the right one as picking the wrong one can result in subpar work, delays, and even legal issues. Choosing the right professional can make all the difference between a job that is done right and a total disaster.

Whether it is building a gazebo or pergola or making renovations indoors, you need to find and hire a contractor that is reliable and competent so that you get a professional who will give you quality performance from start to finish.

Tips to Find and Hire the Best Contractor

There are steps that you can take to ensure that you find the right contractor and the job gets done right, such as:

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  • Go with your instincts: While changing your home’s looks and functionality, a contractor could be in your home and around your family for a long time, sometimes even months. According to experts, if there is something about a contractor you do not like, you should not hire them. You need to trust the person you hire 100 percent, so always go with your guts.
  • Hire a licensed, bonded and insured contractor: When a contractor is licensed and insured, it demonstrates their credibility and knowledge. The license shows that they have taken an exam and know the required building codes and processes. Also, if a contractor is not insured and a worker gets injured while working on your project, you could be liable. So make sure that you get proof of license and insurance and that the contractor is bonded.
  • Choose a contractor that specializes in your type of project: You should always research contractors to find out if they have experience in the type of project you require for your home. Nowadays, many projects are code-specific and regulated, which is why you need someone who has knowledge of the required details. Finding a specialist will ensure that all potential problems are addressed and prevented and the work gets done correctly.
  • Have a detailed contract before the project begins: It is important that you draw a detailed contract that covers everything including costs, approximate start and finish dates, brands of items that will be installed and a complete set of drawings with written specifications. When you make sure that there is an upfront agreement, there are no surprises later.
  • Find out who will perform what on the job: You should find out if the project will be done by the contractor or if it will be given to a subcontractor. Some projects like building gazebos and other outdoor structures, renovating kitchens or bathrooms, etc. can involve multiple subcontractors and there are specialty jobs that general contractors subcontract to other professionals. Sometimes this is a sunny aspect as subcontractors have a more thorough knowledge of the job they will be performing.
  • Provide guidelines for working in your home: Before you hire a contractor, provide guidelines for working in and around your property. If there are certain times that you do not want workers in your home, you do not want them to use your bathroom, you should enable the contractor to know at the start as they may not accept the job based on your parameters. It is important to let your contractor know your expectations and limits.
  • Know your responsibilities: You should know what your responsibilities are or what the contractor expects of you before hiring one. For example, some professionals do move items before starting a project because they do not want to be responsible for broken valuables. You should hold a meeting with your contractor before the project starts so that you can discuss your roles and responsibilities.
  • Find out about mechanic’s lien laws: In some states, under the mechanic’s lien laws, a lien can be placed on your home by any person who worked on or provided supplies for your project and is not paid. This means that even if you have paid your contractor, but he has not made payment to the lumberyard, you can be liable for that bill. Check every contractor’s legal status before hiring them to avoid messy situations later.
  • Check out work samples: It is sometimes more important to look at samples than references as they allow you to see the handiwork of a contractor and the quality of their work. It may spark some ideas for your project as well. Checking out the contractor’s past work also allows you to see the variety of work they have performed.
  • Check out area contractors: Local contractors who have been in the business for many years are usually the safest and most reliable options for projects. If their work within your community was not good, they would not still be in business. Experts say that looking for local professionals is best as the contractor is involved in the community and it is likely that the workers are local as well. If any problem arises later, you can be sure that a local contractor will quickly work to get it fixed. They value their reputation in the area.

Even when you have a solid and decent contractor, projects can be expensive, stressful, and involve many different unpleasant surprises. Finding the right contractor can be challenging, but it is important that you take your time in choosing one. This will help you save time and money and ensure that the project is completed professionally and on schedule.

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About the Author

Greg Bailey is a partner at Outdoor Living Manufacturing Ltd, a value added forest company specializing in do-it-yourself western red cedar kits. He has been in the forest industry for over 30 years and an owner at OLM for over 10 years.

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