Whether you want to fix up certain parts of your house so that your home sells quickly, maybe you need some home maintenance done or you just moved into a new house that needs a little TLC – finding a good, dependable and hopefully not over-the-top expensive contractor can be a challenge.
Consider these tips:
- Your best bet is a reality check from those in the know: friends, neighbors, or co-workers who have had improvement work done.
- Get written estimates from several firms.
- Ask for explanations for price variations.
- Don't automatically choose the lowest bidder.
You can also go online and take a look at free sites such as Google or kudzu.com and Angieslist.com to take a look at contractors’ reviews.
Be alert when your future contractor...
...only accepts cash payments;
...does not list a business number in the local telephone directory;
...tells you your job will be a “demonstration;”
...pressures you for an immediate decision;
...asks you to pay for the entire job up-front;
...suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.
Questions to ask your [future] contractor
How long have you been in business?
Are you licensed and registered with the state? Check it and make sure it's current.
How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year? Ask for a list.
Will my project require a permit? A phone call to your local permitting office is the best--and only--way to determine if you need a permit if you really want to be on the safe side. http://www.pprbd.org/
May I have a list of references?
Will you be using subcontractors on this project? Make sure they are all insured and licensed.
What types of insurance do you carry? Contractors should have personal liability, workers compensation, and property damage coverage.
Last but not least:
Try to limit your down payment and or make payments contingent upon completion of a certain amount of work. Don't make the final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work and know that the subcontractors and suppliers have been paid. Lien laws in your state may allow subcontractors and/or suppliers to file a mechanic's lien against your home to satisfy their unpaid bills.
For More Information:
Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov ,
National Association of Home Builders: www.nahb.com
Toll Free: 1-866-SAY-NACAA
The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.