Letting someone into your home is a matter of trust – and even more so when that person is a contractor, paid to make expensive alterations and renovations to your house. Not only are you dealing with someone unknown who has the potential to cause costly mistakes, but often, especially for first-time home owners, you don’t have much of a clue about the repairs themselves. Is what they are saying true? Are their quotes accurate? Do you really need what they are suggesting? It can be a minefield, but half the battle lies in selecting the right contractor in the first place. These top tips will help you choose a reliable, courteous construction professional:
Make Sure They Are Certified and Insured
It may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many homeowners take a contractor at face value and don’t make simple checks on their accreditation that could save a lot of heartache further down the line. Your build must be able to show you the correct certification, licenses and insurance, along with examples of previous work. If they can’t or won’t, alarm bells should start ringing. Being licensed demonstrations that your contractor is credible and aware of all the relevant building codes – if they aren’t, you could literally be invalidating the terms of your own home insurance, too. It could also mean that if one of their workers gets hurt on your property, you are liable if they aren’t insured. So make sure that you get proof of all these requirements before hiring.
Go For a Track Record
Although it can be tempting when you’re on a budget, never make cost the primary basis for who you select. Instead, make sure you are appointing someone reliable who is a specialist in the type of project you’re undertaking. Large building works are usually heavily regulated and involve an understanding of codes, so you need someone who understands the detail and can guide you through the process, even if their quote is a bit higher. If not, you can end up paying far more to correct costly mistakes further down the line. Use a contractor review site to hear from previous customers and see examples of their prior projects. In order to compare like-for-like, the National Association of Home Builders suggests setting out a specific list of building materials needed for the project and asking all companies to quote along the same lines. Specialist firms will also know exactly where to source equipment that may need to be hired in for your project – the last thing you need is to be sent running down to the DIY store all the time because they didn’t order the right wrench from wrenchguru.com.
Write Out a Clear Contract
It’s imperative to have a clear contract in place before any major works. Things it should cover include agreed costs, deadlines, drawings of the proposed work and specifications on materials. You can view a sample building contract at www.oas.org. Setting contract terms allows you to make your expectations clear and opens up clear channels of communication and boundaries for both you and your contractor to operate within. Agreeing on these items beforehand eliminates the potential for any unwelcome surprises and helps the project to run much more smoothly.