Search Home Improvement Contractors in Florida
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Tips for Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
Sometimes it makes sense to hire a professional rather than do a job yourself. But - choosing the wrong contractor can lead to delays, shoddy work, and even legal problems. We have tips to help you choose a contractor and ensure a good working relationship.
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A contractor could be in your home and around your family for days, weeks, or even months while changing the way your house looks and functions. So if you don't like a contractor for any reason, don't hire him or her
The biggest thing to focus on is choosing the right contractor. If he embellishes even a little, that's enough of a reason not to trust him and move on to the next contractor. You have to trust the contractor 100 percent, not 95 percent.
Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area. Bonded and Insured: Having a license and insurance demonstrates a contractor's credibility and knowledge. A license minimizes the risk to homeowners of getting ripped off, and be sure to ask for the license number. If a contractor doesn't have insurance and a worker gets hurt on your project, you could be liable. The same goes with accidents that damage your neighbor's home. For example, if you have scaffolding that fell and damaged the property next door, you want the contractor's liability to cover the cost of that damage. Get proof of insurance.
Pick a contractor who specializes in your type of project : It's important to research contractors to know if they have experience in a particular project. Today, so many projects are regulated and code specific that you want someone who knows the details of what is required. A professional will take classes and will research the kinds of projects they undertake, so they're experts in their field. This enables them to address potential problems and perform the work correctly. A good remodeler knows how to anticipate the nuances of the work. If you're asking several contractors for a bid, make sure each one is using the same set of plans and specifications. You can't effectively compare estimates from contractors who plan to use different brands of building materials for example.
Have a detailed contract in place before work starts: The contract should cover costs, brands of items being installed, approximate start and finish dates, and the complete set of drawings being used with written specifications. There's never too much detail in a contract. If a specific brand for a part hasn't been agreed upon yet, the contract can include allowances instead, for example - up to $500 for a front door. A lot of homeowners talk to several contractors to get bids on the job, and then they can't remember who told them what. The contract spells out everything. A contract is really an expectation setting, right down to what color the hinges are. It's all about expectations. If we agree on everything upfront, then there are no surprises.
Find out who is really doing the work: Will the person you're hiring actually do the work himself, or will it be subcontracted to someone else? It's good to know who will be showing up on your doorstep, and large jobs like additions and major kitchen remodels often involve several subcontractors, such as electricians and plumbers. General contractors often subcontract specialty jobs, like roofing or vinyl siding, to others. Having subcontractors is good, because they have a more thorough knowledge of their part of the job. It all goes back to hiring a contractor you can trust because won't put a bad subcontractor on your job.
Give the contractor guidelines for working in and around your home: If you don't want the workers showing up before a certain time, staying past a certain hour, using your bathroom, or you need to have the project finished by a specific date, tell the contractor before you hire him. The contractor may not want or be able to accept the job based on your parameters. The contractor has to know what your limits are and what your expectations are. If you don't want the workers starting until 9:30 and out by 4, that project - instead of taking 30 days - might take 45 days. That means it might cost you more money.
Know what your responsibilities are: You may have to move everything out of a room so it can be painted or remove a fence so a concrete truck can be driven into your backyard. Some companies for example, don't move items out of a room because they don't want to be responsible for broken TVs or stereos. You may have to hire a furniture mover. Your contractor should discuss these things with you before starting the job. Always make sure that you know your responsibilities before work starts. It's best to have that in writing, in the contract.
Ask about a construction lien law: Under the construction lien law in Florida, anyone who worked on or supplied materials to your project and is not paid can place a lien on your home. This means that even if you pay your contractor, but he doesn't pay the lumberyard for your materials, you can be liable for that bill. Definitely check on your contractor's legal status before you sign anything. If a contractor owes $30,000 from his last job, there's a good chance your money is going to pay the bills on that last job. If a contractor has a lien against him, it's best to move on and avoid a potentially messy and expensive situation.
Check the contractors previous work: Looking at work the contractor has already done, gives you a good idea of the quality of the work and also lets you see the variety of work the company has performed, such as contemporary, Craftsman, or historic designs.
Think local: Area contractors who have been in business for a long time are usually reliable and safe bets for projects. If they didn't do quality work in your community, they wouldn't still be in business. A local company is generally involved in the community, the workers are probably local, and if you have a problem later, a local contractor is going to be on top of it.