How to Hire a Contractor

Home, Home & Family
on February 2, 2015
Couple with contractor in structure

Hiring a contractor can be an efficient, reliable way to get a job done quickly and to a high standard, but if you choose the wrong person, it can also be a costly mistake. With so many different contractors available to carry out pretty much any piece of work you can imagine, it can be rather daunting to know where to begin. Here are four simple tips that can help you hire the right contractor, the first time.

Never underestimate personal recommendations. Few things are more reliable in life than recommendations from people that you know. If you are thinking about having some work done, talk to your friends, colleagues and family members about any similar work that they have had done, and get the details of contractors that they recommend. You will also be able to see first-hand the results of the contractor’s work.

Conduct thorough telephone interviews. Before you meet a potential contractor, you should always attempt to have a telephone conversation first. You can find out a lot about an individual over the phone, and this way, you may avoid an unnecessary visit to your home. This Old House recommends that you ask contractors to provide financial references, a list of previous clients and how many other projects they are currently working on. If you are not happy with what you hear, you should not consider taking things further.

Find out more. Once you have spoken to several contractors, make a short list of three people that you may want to take on the job. Arrange to meet them face to face to discuss things further, and make sure that you feel at ease and confident with the person. Always follow up on references, too. Speak to previous clients, follow up bank references and check with your local Better Business Bureau to ensure that he has a clean history.

Compare bids. Price is, of course, very important when it comes to hiring a contractor, so ensure that you get bids or quotes from at least two of them. Typically, he should not be charging a profit margin of more than 15 to 20 percent, unless the work is particularly skilled. Ensure that the bid contains all the details you need. Is he trying to cover something up? Be wary of very low bids. This could indicate that he is cutting corners. Check the proposed payment terms, too. If he wants too much up front, then it could indicate that he has financial problems and or may not be reliable.

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