Author: Dustin Johnson
For the past couple of months, I’ve spent just about every weekend doing some type of home improvement or maintenance work to my home and yard. I’m either mowing, trimming trees and bushes, planting flowers, fixing the landscaping, replacing wood rot, painting, staining, installing hardwood floors and the list goes on.
Now my wife wants to remodel two of our bathrooms as she already has new vanities, faucets, tile and paint all picked out and ready to go. She says, “we’ve got out of town guests next month so it needs to get done before they arrive!” Ugh, when does it end? After working at the office all week, aren’t my weekends meant to be more relaxing, especially now, since my wife and I are empty nesters?
I’m not getting any younger and my lower back aches for days after working around the house all weekend. I think it’s time to hire some of this stuff out and start enjoying some more free time pain-free!
Here are 5 things you should do when hiring a contractor.
Check Their Accreditation – Choosing the right contractor is the most important step in preparing for a major or minor renovation. So when I do look for help, I’ll turn to a BBB accredited business. BBB accredited businesses meet and agree to BBB’s Code of Business Practices which is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business. I want to use a company that is just as concerned about customer satisfaction as they are about making the sale.
BBB Serving Greater Kansas City provides the following recommendations, especially for those larger projects:
Get Multiple Estimates – Try to obtain at least 3 estimates if you don’t already have a go-to contractor. This not only gives you the opportunity to check prices, but also see how each contractor behaves and conducts business. Research the company, check to see if they have the license your city, county and/or state may require for the type of work to be performed and if a permit will be required.
Check References – Ask if they have customers who would vouch for their work. Ask previous customers if the job was completed to their specifications and if the job was completed on schedule. Was the estimate close to the final price? Would they recommend the contractor to potential customers? Would they use them in the future?
Never pay the full amount upfront – It’s not uncommon for contractors to ask for down payments on jobs, but you should never pay more than half the total amount. Do not pay more until the project is finished and meets industry standards. BBB recommends paying the down payment with check or credit card. If the contractor skips town with your payment, you can dispute the charge with your bank or credit card company.
Get everything in writing – Make sure the agreement clearly indicates the project details. You will need to know how much work is being done and how much you’re responsible for paying. The contract should include a project completion estimated date. The BBB has handled complaints in which contractors have stretched out contracts for weeks, months and even years while trying to keep homeowners locked in. The agreement and supplemental literature should include all information about workmanship and manufacturer warranties. Never sign a blank contract or any contract without reading it thoroughly. Keep a copy of the contract in case there is an issue.
Good luck on your home improvement projects whether you are doing them yourself or hiring them out! Just don’t forget to use our free service to find and obtain reports on companies at www.bbb.org.