Not All Home Repair/Remodeling contractors are alike. The Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia recommends that you prequalify your home repair/remodeling contractor to get the job done the first time. The following guidelines will help you select a professional:
Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax ID number, and a business license where applicable.
Don't hesitate to ask to see copies of both liability coverage and workers compensation certificates. If a contractor is not properly insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property. Make sure the coverage runs through the duration of your job. Don't let your homeowners insurance become the contractor's liability coverage.
Check to see if the contractor is properly licensed and bonded. A payment bond will insure a mechanic's lien cannot be placed on your home because the subcontractors were not paid.
Look for a company with a proven track record. The contractor can provide you with a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out if they are satisfied.
Make sure the contractor is financially stable. A professional contractor can provide financial information about his company. Also ask about payment procedures.
Carefully read and understand any warranties offered, and watch for provisions that would void it.
The lowest bid is not always the best bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substanstard work. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a contractor.
Avoid contractors who:
(1) Engage in high pressure sale tactics. Never decide before you investigate.
(2) Refuse to give written estimates or contracts.
(3) Fail to obtain proper permits or request the homeowner get them.
(4) Require full or substantial payment before work begins.
Be certain the contract includes a schedule of payments for the complete job. If you choose a contractor that requires a down payment, arrange the payments so that the down payment does not exceed $1,000 or 10% of the contract, whichever is less. Also, only pay for work that has been performed - never in advance! Remember, the payment schedule in your contract should be spelled out in dollars and cents - not in percentages!
Once you have signed a contract, make sure all contract changes are in writing and signed by you and the contractor. Never rely upon verbal change order agreements.