Home repairs can be extremely expensive, and you should learn as much about a contractor as you can before hiring one. The following is a list of the basic steps to take in choosing a home repair contractor or company:
- Seek recommendations and referrals. Talk to friends, family, and others for whom the contractor has done similar work.
- Get quotes from at least three contractors.
- Make sure the estimates are based on the same work so that you can make reasonable comparisons.
- Get the names of your suppliers and ask if the contractor pays them in a timely manner.
- Be wary of contractors working from PO boxes, private mailboxes, and suites rather than local business addresses.
- Insist on receiving a full
You must be especially cautious if the contractor:
- offers door-to-door services or comes to pick you up;
- he happens to have leftover material from a recent job;
- tells him that his work will be a “demonstration”;
- offers you discounts if you get other customers;
- offers you a price that is much higher or much lower than other quotes;
- pressures you to make an immediate decision;
- offers you exceptionally extensive warranties;
- You can only be contacted by leaving messages on an answering machine;
- You drive an unmarked truck, or your vehicles have out-of-state plates or
- asks you to pay for the entire job in advance.
Just because a contractor is listed in the “Home Improvement” section of the yellow pages does not guarantee that they have a valid license or that their reputation is good.
How do I check the references provided by the contractor?
You should speak to some of the contractor’s clients. They can help you decide if such a contractor is right for you. You can ask them:
- Were you satisfied with the project? Was it completed on time?
- Did the contractor keep you informed of the progress of the project and any problems that arose during the project?
- Did unexpected costs arise? If so, what were they?
- Did the workers show up on time? Did they clean everything when the job was done?
- Would you recommend the contractor?
- Would you rehire the contractor?
Do I have to enter into a written contract with the contractor?
Yes. You should not allow a kitchen contractor to start work on your home until you have a signed written contract. Although the idea of having an oral agreement and just “shaking hands” may be tempting, it is very difficult to enforce the terms of an oral contract in court in the event of a dispute.