Hiring a Contractor: Selecting the Best Contractor

Finding a reputable and honest contractor is of extreme importance if your project is going to be completed in a timely manner and without a lot of worry and stress. While the vast majority of contractors are skilled at their trade as well as ethical in their business practices, their are a few rotten tomatoes out there.

Therefore you will want to take a few careful measures when seeking out and eventually hiring a contractor to ensure that you get quality workmanship at a fair price. This section will provide some basics guidelines that will help you with this process. Of course good old common sense is the number one rule. If something sounds to good to be true, well it probably is. If it smells like a fish, looks like a fish, then it is probably … you guessed it – a fish.

Now on to some basic steps to follow when hiring a contractor.

Contractors Everywhere!
Where do you begin to look for a contractor? The newspapers and local publications are chock full of advertisement s for contractors. They are in the Yellow Pages sorted out in more categories than you care to remember. You have probably received more flyers and door hanger advertising contracting services than you care to remember. They are now on the Internet, promoting themselves through web sites. You can even find then in your TV Guide.

Basically, it is easy enough to find them, but how do you know which one to hire?

When initially selecting a contractor, don’t be afraid to ask for several references.  Once they supply you with a list, check them out. Inspect the quality of the work that was performed. Ask if the project was completed on time. Inquire as to if there were any “added” costs to the initial bid and if so what they were. You also will want to know how easy or difficult it was to work with the contractor.

If the contractor is reluctant to supply you with any references, you may want think about choosing a different one.

Obtain at least two to three bids on your project. Make sure you clearly communicate either verbally or better yet on paper what you want to do but listen to their advice as well. Experienced contractors can often point out items you may have overlooked as well as problem areas.

You should not always go with the lowest bid. Some contractors low bid in hopes of increasing charges as they go along. Others may bid it incorrectly and then cut corners on the project. Others may bid it right and still be low, which is what you want. But if someone’s bid is higher, take into consideration that contractor’s quality and their references before making your final decision.

Ask for a copy of the contractor’s license. Some states may not require one, while others do. If in Arizona, you can actually visit the Registrar of Contractors web site and check out a contractor’s license online. If you know the license number, you can search by that. You can also search their database by the contractor’s name or company.

Ask for a copy of the contractor’s insurance coverage. Contractors must have general liability insurance for themselves and worker’s compensation coverage for any of their employees.

Determine the schedule of your project. There should be a firm start date and an estimated completion. Because construction can have so many variables, it will be impossible to get a firm completion date. Let the contractor know when you would like the jobs finished and see if they can accommodate you.

Ask whether the contractor will be on the job every day or if he or she will have someone else managing, such as a foreman. If there is a project foreman, make sure that you will be able to properly communicate with them (i.e. language barriers, etc.)