While reading through a DIY site today I noticed a “Contractor Checklist” and thought it would be an interesting topic to talk about here. If this is what consumers are being taught to look for when selecting a home improvement contractor , then you should be aware so you know how your company stacks up.
From the site:
- Got License? Most states require that a contractor have a license to operate in that state. Once you find a contractor, check to see if he or she has a local contracting license to do the job.
- Check References – get at least three references from satisfied clients. And if you want to get really fanatical, go to the contractor’s current job site. See if the site is messy. Are the workers taking care of the property?
- Get Bids – if you have the luxury, get multiple bids from several contractors. Don’t always assume that the lowest bid is the best, because that contractor may be desperate for work or might cut corners on the job. But if you get contractor’s from several sources, you could get a really great deal.
- Get it in Writing – the days of the “handshake deal” are far behind us. Get a detailed contract together and throw everything in (even if the project doesn’t involve the kitchen sink!) The more you clarify, the fewer headaches you’ll have if things go wrong.
- Do You Take a Check? Don’t ever pay in cash. Can you say, “Proof of payment”? I thought you could… Keep logs of all payments (for example – 10% down, 20% by one date, another 20% by another date, final payment when work is complete) and pay with check or credit card only.
Then, the site listed things to look for in a bad contractor; does this sound like your company?
- If required by the state, your contractor doesn’t want to show you his or her license. Or won’t give you references. Or you two don’t get along. Keep in mind: this person may be in your home, working side-by-side with you, for several months – you’d better get along!
- Your contractor wants you to pay for the entire project… up front. Run for the hills.
- Your contractor has a “friend” in the financing business that can get you a “good deal” on a loan for your project. You’ll end up with a huge “2nd mortgage” at a ridiculously “high rate” and your “contractor” just got a juicy “commission” on the deal.
- Your contractor doesn’t have a business address, a business card, and it looks like the contractor sleeps in his or her pickup truck. Run really fast for those hills.
Finally, they list some things that promote a proper contractor
- The contractor has at least 4 to 5 years experience. It shows they can manage their business and complete their projects.
- The contractor has insurance. Liability and worker’s compensation are the most important types of coverage to make sure everyone is covered.
- The contractor has more than references – he or she may even carry a book of photos showing past work projects that have been completed.
- The contractor provides cost breakdowns for the job. These breakdowns show specific details of what the project will cost to complete.
- The contractor is flexible. Communicate all your requirements and specifications for the project. Whether you two decide that you want to supervise the work or you want to let the contractor make all the decisions, your contractor will be flexible enough to work with you.
Like it or not, these are the things home owners are being taught to look when hiring a home improvement contractor, and market forces are either working for or against your contracting company. In my opinion, the easiest business to run is one where you provide honest work at a good profit in your local community. Some of the richest and most respectable contractors I know operate on that premise all over the country.