Hurrican Shutters

Installing "Peace of Mind"

Prepare The Questions For Your Prospective Contractor

Posted by cat5shuttersllc on December 19, 2011

Prepare The Questions For Your Prospective ContractorJessica Toothman offers great insight on what to ask your prospective contractor:
Hiring a contractor can be similar to acquiring a brother in-law, except that when it comes to a contractor, you’re the one who gets to do the choosing — not your wayward little sister. This family aspect stems from the fact that you’ll probably be seeing quite a lot of your contractor, depending on the size of the project and the amount of subcontracting involved, so it’s important to find someone you can get along with who’ll do the job right.
In order to make a sound choice, there are several key questions you should pose to potential contractors — ideally at least three candidates so you can compare their responses — to ensure you’re getting a good match. This is your home, after all; you want someone who’s dependable and determined to see the project through to the end.
On the next page, we’ll jump right in and learn what you need to know about a contractor before you consider making him or her a temporary addition to the family.

5: The Business History

When you’re first getting into the process of hiring a contractor, you’ll want to dig deep to get an idea of his or her business history. This means requesting — and duly verifying — proof that he or she is currently state licensed, paying employees legally and carrying workers’ compensation, property damage and liability insurance. Membership with a reputable professional association is also a good sign.

It’s important to confirm whether the contractor has any recent relevant experience, so get a list of references that’ve had projects similar in scope to yours and follow up with them. Don’t be lazy about making phone calls and visits. Ask other customers questions about their experiences dealing with the contractor and their satisfaction with the finished product. You can obtain other third-party verifications from state licensing bodies, professional associations, state and local courts, insurance providers, suppliers, Better Business Bureaus and municipal departments.

4: The Supervision

It’s important to ascertain during the course of the interview how the contractor plans on handling site supervision and subcontractors. For starters, a lot of the questions on the last page (such as those concerning licensing, payroll, liability insurance and workers’ comp) are inquiries you’ll need to put to any subcontractors as well — everyone on-site must be covered fully.

Another reason it’s a good idea to find out whether the contractor has a work crew or intends to roll out a whole series of subcontractors is to obtain records of all the transactions between everyone to save yourself from getting burned if the contractor doesn’t pony up. You can also protect yourself by asking the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers for lien releases or waivers upon each payment.

3: The Schedule

Hiring a ContractorBefore you hire a contractor, you should ask them if he or she can provide you with a fixed start date and a completion date — including any cleanup duties. These dates should be included in the formal written agreement, along with a timetable of the work that’ll be done and a material list of everything that’ll be needed. It’s also smart to address how change orders will affect the project’s timeline in the contract.

During the project (provided you aren’t watching it unfold firsthand), you’ll probably want to check in once in a while to see how everything’s coming along. So it’s a good idea to ask the contractor how he or she plans on keeping you up-to-date and the process for scheduling site visits. Another related concern is determining the best way to stay in contact with the contractor so you can communicate any questions or concerns to him or her.

2: The Guarantees

Like the per payment lien releases we discussed on a previous page, warranties are a smart way to make sure you’ll leave the table happy. In addition to these measures, it’s a good general rule of thumb to hold off signing a contract until it includes everything you want — and that you understand all the terms and conditions. You’ll also want to keep assiduous records of all payments and invoices in case a dispute needs to be settled.

On a similar note, make sure the contractor guarantees he or she will complete all the necessary homework and obtain all the required approvals during the process. Without this precaution, some contractors might sweep under the rug any number of matters ranging from building permits to Homeowner’s Association bylaws, and you could find yourself uncovering a huge legal mess the minute the door closes behind them.

1: The Bottom Line

Along with the other top questions you want to ask during the process of hiring a contractor, you should also request itemized price estimates from each candidate. After you receive these, it’s best to examine each one carefully, paying particular attention to any that seem too high as well as too low. Estimates that fall in the shallow end of the pool can be a red flag for a hasty job that won’t leave you with a quality finished product. If an estimate seems a good deal pricier than others, that could mean the other contractors were missing some core obstacle involved in completing the project and therefore didn’t set a high enough estimate for a proper job.

You’ll also need to negotiate the payment schedule and determine how any surprise expenses or potential change orders will be factored in. Planning the payment schedule needs to be a give-and-take, but the more you can negotiate to keep in your pocket for as long as possible the better: You never want to pay for more than what you’ve gotten at any particular time. And don’t forget — don’t sign that last check until you’re completely happy with the completed project.

Distributed by Viestly

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