Building your dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare of unmet schedules, cost overruns, shabby workmanship and endless arguments. Choosing a new contractor is difficult and further delays are inevitable. Spending a little more time and paying a little more attention to the process of choosing your contractor can avoid all this.
In most cases, the writing is on the wall from the very first day, but wishful thinking gets in the way of logic, which leads to disaster down the road. A good number of articles have been written on the subject, and you should try reading at least one or two well before making your choice of a contractor.
Here is a list of items to check and to look out for:
1. If your state requires a state license, ask for the number. Don’t stop at that. Call the relevant state board and check on the license’s status. Don’t you know who regulates contractors in your state? Ask Him/Her. And pay attention to the reaction. There is no need to be shy. A legitimate and honest contractor will have no problem providing the information.
2. Ask for references. Pay attention to the reaction. Too quick a reaction and fast talk is probably a lie and a bluff. Too cautious a reaction is a sign of uncertainty. In any event, write the names and numbers down and do call them. Go see them.
Most people will actually welcome you simply to show off the contractor’s achievement.
3. Are you building a home from the ground up? Make sure the contractor has built a complete project in the past. Experience counts; a ground-up construction or a major remodel is a very different animal from room and bathroom additions.
4. Visit his/her place of business. Not all contractors have an office, but you need to make sure you are not dealing with a fly-by-night operation.
5. Your construction loan package will include paperwork for the contractor to complete. How does he handle that? The following is a list of warning signs.
6. Be wary of the contractor who prefers to give a “complete package” price. No construction lender will accept that and neither should you. The line item cost breakdown does not have to be completed on every single line, but the more the merrier. Read it carefully, it will dictate the quality of the home you end up with.
7. Demand a material’s list. You don’t need the contractor who doesn’t have the time for this. Some lenders don’t require this and when they do little attention is paid to it. Insist on a complete list of all materials and fixtures. Go to the showrooms, choose them and list your choices by make, model and /or quality.
This list should be signed by the contractor and you and be made a part of the contract.
8. As a part of the construction process, the contractor will be asked to provide evidence of Liability Insurance as well as evidence of Workman’s compensation. He/She may very well not have Workman’s Compensation Insurance if he/she does not directly employ anyone. However, complaints about Liability Insurance are a sure sign of trouble.
9. As material costs are rising, payment of deposits on some deliveries may be required by suppliers and some construction will allow that. But be aware of the contractor who asks for upfront money.
10. Never ever pay a contractor before your local county or city inspector has signed off on that stage. The lender’s inspector only verifies the percentage of completion, not compliance, so his approval does not mean that your local authorities will also sign off.
For more information about hiring a contractor, please call the Gillespie Handyman Services or visit www.gillespiehandyman.com.
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