Helpful Tips
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1. Consider hiring a designer for larger projects.

For larger projects, such as a room addition or even a significant landscaping project, seriously consider hiring an architect or designer first. The designer will help detail exactly what you want, and he can draw a set of plans and material specifications for your project. Most designers will also provide oversight and additional assistance during your project.

2. Ask for a list of references.

Ask your contractor for client references. This is your best way to judge a contractor's experience and professionalism. Don't simply read the references a contractor gives you. Take time to contact several previous clients. You should also visit one of the contractor's references-either with the contractor, or with your designer.

3. Call the references, here's what to ask.

List of questions to ask references:

How was the quality of the workmanship?
How well did the contractor stay on budget according to the original estimate?
How timely was the contractor during the course of the job?
Were you happy with his/her attitude when problems would arise?
How were the subcontractors and workers that were on the job?
Did they keep the job site clean and safe?
Was the contractor himself on the job to supervise?
Would you ever use this contractor again?
Would you refer them to a friend?

4. Communication is key!

When you interview a potential contractor, you should feel comfortable speaking with him. After all, he will be working on your biggest investment! Explain the goals you have for your project. Can the contractor give you real solutions? Communication is the key to a productive client/contractor relationship. By clearly communicating your creative ideas, asking the right types of questions, and listening to your contractor's solutions, you'll know if he is right for your project.

5. Don't hire based on lowest price alone.

The basis of a contractor's price is important. Do not simply hire a contractor with the lowest estimate. Examine and breakdown each estimate. Is the price of materials low compared to other estimates? The materials could be inferior. If the contractor's price is considerably lower than other estimates his standard of workmanship may not be up to par with more qualified contractors. Or the contractor may have made a mistake on the price. Weigh all factors-price quote, references, and professionalism before making a decision.

6. How long has the contractor been in business?

We recommend you hire a contractor with five or more years of experience. Research has shown that contractor's with five or more years of experience are likely to have a solid business foundation, and are therefore more likely to be reliable.

7. Verify insurance.

It is extremely important that a contractor be properly insured to protect you from potential legal problems. A contractor should have the following types of coverage:
Workman's Compensation Insurance - protects you in case a worker is injured on your property. General Liability Insurance - covers you in case a contractor damages your property. Automobile Insurance - protects you in case a contractor's vehicle damages another vehicle on your property.

8. Check the contractor's level of education.

You should hire a contractor who places emphasis on continuing their education. Contractors who attend industry seminars, trade shows, and take classes in University remain abreast of the latest techniques and solutions for improving your home as well as successfully managing their business.

9. Look for a professional designation.

Several industries, such as the remodeling and kitchen and bath industries, offer contractors the opportunity to earn professional designations. For example, remodelers may become Certified Remodelers (CR) or Certified Graduate Remodelers (CGR). To earn a professional designation, a contractor must take classes and pass a core competency test. Contractors who pass those tests often provide you with a higher level of professionalism. Not all industries offer professional designations.

10. Look for a contractor who is a member of an applicable trade association.

Look for a contractor who is a member of an applicable trade association. Membership in a trade association is strong evidence that a contractor has taken the initiative to stay current with industry standards and business practices. This is particularly important for states that don't require licensing.


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