Need help with Home Improvement? Don’t get left in a fix.

home improvement property shop wilmington nc
Need help with Home Improvement? Don’t get left in a fix.
Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Man painting fenceYou may be a do-it-yourselfer with the small stuff, but more complex home improvement usually calls for a pro.  In hiring a contractor, these 6 tips could help ensure you’re happy with the results:

  1. Get referrals from people you know.  Most homeowners find a contractor through friends or family.  Or check online consumer rating sites like Angie’s List. ( www.angieslist.com )
    • Your friends and family are not likely to lead you in the wrong direction and will definitely know who NOT to use!  Other sites can offer reviews to help you make your decision, though be wary as not all reviews are genuine.
  2. Get written bids from three contractors.
    • Competition will help to ensure that you have the best price possible and know all options available for the requested job.
  3. Ask each bidder for a business card.  If it doesn’t say contractor is licensed and insured, don’t be shy about making sure.
    • License and insurance is especially important if the job isn’t completed well or on time.  Their license and insurance help to assure that they will be held accountable for the job they have done.  It is common to find that the least expensive contractor usually does not have the proper license and insurance.  Remember that this is for YOUR protection!
  4. Try to use an experienced local contractor.  Check the firm’s reputation with your Better Business Bureau and/or consumer protection agency.
  5. Once you’ve made your choice, sign a contract that spells out all the details.  (You may want an attorney to okay document first, especially for larger projects.) 
    • No contract, no deal!  Period.  A contract is for your protection more than the contractor, with a contract there won’t be any misunderstanding as to what is expected from the project and throughout.  An attorney can assist you by verifying that the contract is in your best interest and not a way for the contractor to be paid no matter the service!
  6. Pay in installments by check or credit card while work is underway.  Don’t make the final payment until the housing inspector has signed off on the project, or every item on the job list is done.
    • By paying in installments you assure that the contractor will not “take your money and run”!  Installments keep the lines of communication open between yourself and the contractor, if your not happy, they don’t get paid.  It is especially important to hold the last payment until all inspections are complete and permits are closed.  Without the final step you have no assurances that the house has no liens and properly completed.  This could come back at a closing or even hurt your credit.