It’s an exciting time when you decided to renovate or add on to your home or business. However, it is important you choose your general contractor wisely. Otherwise, your excitement can quickly turn into frustration, anger, and disappointment.
Luckily, you can greatly increase the chances of a smooth project if you follow these tips for vetting a contractor. It does take a bit of time and effort beforehand, but it is far better than rushing into a decision you’ll regret later.
Get Multiple Quotes
Get multiple estimates from contractors who have done similar projects. There’s no sense in asking for a quote on a bathroom renovation if the contractor has only done kitchens.
Carefully examine what’s included in each proposal. Materials, labor, and prices can vary drastically. Read the fine print to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges.
Price Shouldn’t Be Your Only Priority
Everyone wants to get a good deal, but price shouldn’t be your only priority. Some contractors offer rock bottom prices, but use sub-par materials. They may also cut corners instead of following best practices.
A high price doesn’t necessarily equate to top quality, either. Look at what sets an expensive contractor apart from one with a lower price to see if what they offer justifies the higher price tag.
Check Their Credentials
Check how long the company has been in business. Are they registered or licensed in your area? Do they have the right insurance policies in place? Ask for proof.
The contractor should provide you with their Rhode Island contractor registration number. You can run this through the state building office’s website to confirm it is valid.
They should also provide you with their certificate of insurance. Call the carrier to ensure their liability insurance coverage and workers compensation coverage is also valid.
Talk to References
It isn’t enough to get a list of past customers. Talk to at least three to discover how the company handled their project and how they could have done better. Some customers may allow you to see completed work first-hand, which is far better than any telephone call.
Request a Building Schedule
A good contractor can give you a fairly good idea of the how long your project will take. They should provide you with a legal document that states the anticipated start and end date, including cleanup.
The contractor will normally set a schedule for work hours too. You can also ask for regular progress reports as the project moves along.
What About Permits?
Almost all renovations or new builds require a permit. If the contractor says this isn’t the case, check with your local building authority.
Permits are very important, because they ensure your contractor meets construction codes. They should also pull the permits since they’re the professionals, not you.
What About Their Warranty?
Reputable contractors include the details of the warranty on materials and workmanship within their contract. It should outline the quality of the work, what is covered, and for how long.
This warranty may be your only avenue of recourse if something goes wrong down the line. Some contractors cover their work for six months while others are happy to correct problems for up to a year.
When Do They Expect Payment?
Once again, reputable contractors usually include this information in their contract. If it is a small job, you normally pay at completion. Large jobs usually involve a draw schedule which outlines how much you pay at certain points within the project.
You may also need to make a down payment for large jobs. Never pay in cash and never pay more than 50% upfront. A usual down payment is 10% – 20%.
Once you’ve asked your questions and have the answers you want to hear, check that your contract includes all the details. Then it is just a matter of signing and getting on with the exciting part. Don’t forget to give us a call to tell us about the renovations that you’re making, too. Making changes to your home can have an impact on your Rhode Island home insurance policy.