When making renovations to your home, selecting a reliable contractor is key to getting the results you want without any negative consequences, hidden prices or extra hassle. With so many contracting businesses available, making the right choice can sometimes be difficult. Mary Lynn Stone, President of Century 21 New Millennium offers the following tips for getting a contractor you can trust.
“Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best ways to find a contractor,” says Stone. “Talking to neighbors, friends and family about who they used, and even stopping by to check out the results, is a great way to find a tried-and-true contractor.”
“Don’t be afraid to shop around,” Stone suggests. Pick out a few contractors who seem reliable, meet with them for an interview, and don’t forget to ask for references and free estimates. “You want to feel comfortable with your contractor, so find someone you connect with,” states Stone. “And don’t always go for the lowest price bid—there could be hidden costs, underpaid workers or shoddy building materials.” Compare prices—if one company is a great deal lower, it may be best to drop them.
Ask the Right Questions
When talking to a potential contractor, it’s important to ask questions that might not come up organically in conversation, says Stone. Some of these include queries about how long they have been in business; who will be working on-site, including any sub-contractors and supervisors; on-site trash removal and cleanup; how many similar projects have been completed and what time of day workers will be on site.
Look for a License
If you find a contractor who looks promising, check out the state licensing board to make sure their business is licensed, and that they have a clean record. If complaints have been filed against them, that doesn’t automatically mean they are bad news. Check out how they were resolved. “The Better Business Bureau will most likely have any complaints that have been filed, and will tell you how the contractor responded to them,” suggests Stone.
Often contractors are required to have property damage, personal liability insurance and workers’ compensation. “If your contractor doesn’t have worker’s comp, you could be held responsible for any on-the-job or work-related injury,” cautions Stone. Ask for proof of insurance and verify with the company before making a hire.
“If a contractor makes you feel pressured, fails to provide any references, only accepts cash payment, or demands the entire payment upfront, they probably are unreliable and may be roping you into a scam,” says Stone. Hiring a contractor for even a minor remodeling project is a big deal—make sure you are 100 percent comfortable with your choice before signing any agreements.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. The Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park and Lusby. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.