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Choosing the Right Contractor

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Finding the RIGHT contractor for your project is more than just finding the lowest price. Less tangible items like your ability to communicate and feel comfortable working with your contractor will inevitably prove to be much more important in determining your eventual satisfaction with the job – particularly if it’s a large project.

Here are a couple of tips on finding the right contractor for your home improvement project:

1. Ask for references - Do your own detective work. Talk to homeowners that this contractor has done work for in the past. Were they satisfied with the work? Was the work finished? Were they comfortable with the company’s employees in their home? Did the contractor return phone calls? The Better Business Bureau can also serve as a good reference.

2. Compare “apples-to-apples” - If you get bids from several contractors, compare the bids fairly. As much as possible, make sure that you explain the job completely to each of the contractors to ensure each one bids on the same exact job so that you can compare the estimates “apples-to-apples.” In addition to their final price, consider other factors – how comfortable you feel about the company, their experience, etc. The project’s success depends on much more than just money.

3. Don’t automatically accept the lowest bid - The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here. A higher bid may be worth the price in better materials, workmanship and reliability. A large number of complaints filed against contractors are the result of homeowners taking the lowest bid and then being unhappy with the low quality of work. Even when the contractor promises to do the same job, be careful – often contractors will bid a job extremely aggressively in order to get it. When the work takes longer than originally planned, the contractor can feel ‘squeezed’ by the budget and try and cut corners. It’s less expensive in the long run to pay for quality upfront.

4. Make sure your contractor is properly licensed - You may find a lower price by hiring an unlicensed contractor, but beware: you can be held legally liable for any injuries that take place on your property. Also, lien laws may not protect you when dealing with unlicensed parties. Not only should the general contractor be licensed, but all of his subcontractors must, too.


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