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

home improvement property shop wilmington nc
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.