With the deep recession we’re in, anyone with a pickup truck has gotten into the construction business. Here’s an example and advice on avoiding getting ripped off by unscrupulous or inexperienced contractors:
In January, I completed a sunroom addition in Big Canoe next door to a home that was having a screen porch added. The homeowner asked for my bid on the screen porch (I originally built the home for its previous owner) and the customer chose to go with a friend’s son, whose bid was a little less than mine. My estimate for completion: 3 weeks.
The homeowner started the job in November and needed it complete before the holidays. Guess when it was done? This week, a full 3 months. A job that should have taken 3 weeks took 300% longer.
Before you hire any contractor, follow these 5 essential steps:
- Check at least 3 references (that are not relatives). Check out the contractor’s work on these jobs in person.
- Have the contractor provide their workers compensation and general liability insurance. Ensure the paperwork is authentic by requesting it from the contractor’s insurance company.
- Get a copy of the contractor’s state license. Most states require a license to obtain a building permit. If the contractor wants you to obtain the permit or doesn’t want to get one, check with the county/city building department to see if one is required for the work you are doing. If a permit is required, don’t use a contractor that is unwilling to get one.
- Clearly define the work to be done and get a fixed price contract. If you change the work specifications, get the new cost and work schedule in writing.
- Have clearly defined milestones tied to dates in the contract. For exterior work, don’t forget to add extra time for weather delays, especially in winter.
By following these 5 steps, you can ensure you will have a positive experience in renovating or updating your home.