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Tips for Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor

Today is officially the second day of spring! As the temperatures rise, this is the perfect time to get any home-improvement projects under way. The rainy season isn’t here yet, it’s not too hot outside. But, how do you hire someone to make these improvements? Whether it’s your yearly AC tune-up (ahem – it IS that time again!), re-shingling the roof, or landscaping your yard, you need a professional. A hammer and business cards do not make a professional – you need to do your research to make sure you are entrusting your home with someone that knows what they are doing.

Here is the Better Business Bureau’s checklist to go through before hiring a contractor.

  1. Check their track record. You can get a company’s BBB rating and complaint history at www.bbb.org.
  2. Compare costs. You want to get at least 3 written bids based on the same warranty, specifications, labor, and time. And remember – cheaper is NOT always better!
  3. Check to make sure the company is properly licensed and insured. Without the proper licenses and insurance, they won’t be able to protect you from any damages.
  4. Ask for references. Be specific about the references you want – ask for contact information on their 3 most recent jobs. They will be able to give you all kinds of information – whether the contractor sticks to budget, their honesty and integrity, work ethic.
  5. Get a written contract. Do not allow the contractor to start working until you have a written, signed agreement including start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, and warranty costs. Don’t forget to read the fine print before you sign.
  6. You should never pay a deposit over 25%-33% of the total job costs, and the final payment should be due upon completion of the work – not before. Always pay by check or credit card and never by cash – this way you will have a record of all payments made.
  7. Get all warranty information in writing. Again, you want to read the fine print carefully.
  8. Be sure all workers employed by the contractor are bonded to protect you against theft and damage.
  9. Check criminal history. Before letting anyone work on your home, check to see if they have a criminal record.
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