Tips to finding the right contractor

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Home improvement projects tend to be costly. Because of the considerable financial investment homeowners must make when improving their homes, it’s important to find a contractor you can trust and feel comfortable with.
The vast majority of professional contractors are trustworthy and willing to work with homeowners to help them design the homes of their dreams. But there are still some tips homeowners can keep in mind as they begin their search for a contractor.
Work only with licensed contractors. Licensed contractors have been verified as legitimate by your local governing body, removing much of the fears homeowners have with regard to finding trustworthy contractors. Unlicensed contractors may not be insured or bonded, and their estimates may be lower than their licensed competitors’ because they do not contribute to unemployment. Licensed contractors often are subjected to criminal background checks as well, calming homeowners’ fears about inviting strangers into their homes.
Ask for recommendations. Word-of-mouth is great when looking for contractors. Oftentimes, a contractor’s best friends are his past clients. Ask friends or neighbors for recommendations on local contractors, inquiring about prices as well as each particular contractor’s demeanor and openness to suggestions. Contact your local Office of Consumer Affairs to check each contractor’s complaint history.
Get written estimates. Before hiring a particular firm, get written estimates from several contractors. Some contractors will charge fees for the estimate, but they must inform you of those fees before the estimates are provided. Compare estimates so you can get a better grasp of how much your project will cost. While cost is important, try to avoid choosing a contractor based on cost alone, as a good rapport with a contractor who may be more expensive might make spending a little more money worth it.
Make sure the contract is specific. When you choose a contractor, make sure the contract he or she provides is very specific, going into great detail about the specifics of the project. This contract should spell out the materials and equipment that will be used, as well as the final cost of the project, the payment schedules while the project is ongoing and the work schedule.
Keep track of all paperwork and pay by check. Once you sign the contract, create a folder where you can store all paperwork. Scan each document so you can store them on your computer as well. When payments must be made, never pay in cash. Pay by check and do not pay for the entirety of the project upfront, opting instead to pay at predetermined intervals spelled out in your contract.
Nerves often come into play when hiring a home contractor, but homeowners who take a careful approach to the hiring process will likely end up hiring a trustworthy contractor who does great work.

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