Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
To find a reliable contractor, ask for recommendations from friends and relatives who used a contractor for similar work. Get a BBB Member Referral List and a reliability report on each contractor. Comparison shop. Obtain at least three detailed estimates. Don't assume the lowest bid will be the best quality job. Make sure you are comparing 'like' factors (materials, timelines, etc.). Ask candidates to show you around the sites of completed projects and those where work is in progress, emphasizing your interest in jobs comparable to yours. Also request a client list for the last two years. Contact each regarding their satisfaction with the work when it was in progress, immediately after completion, the time to completion, and a year after completion. Ask if a written warranty is offered on the work, including how long and terms and conditions. Warranties can range from one to 10 years or more and may only be on the parts or the work done. Never sign a blank or partially blank contract. Before paying, get a sworn statement that all bills for material and labor have been paid for by the contractor. Discuss payment arrangements with each candidate. Never pay 100% up front. Contracts can be arranged with incremental payments at pre-determined intervals, such as 1/3 down, 1/3 when the job is at a pre-arranged halfway mark, and 1/3 upon completion. If work is being financed, be sure to have complete details of the financing agreement, especially if a second mortgage of your home is used as security for the remodeling work. A good contract or agreement should include: .. Services or products you will receive from the company, including plans and sketches, subject to your approval, and a detailed listing of work to be completed (including a specifications list or list of materials to be used along with their brand names); .. The contractor's certificate of insurance for worker's compensation, damage, and liability; .. Approximate beginning and completion dates and completion time. Keep in mind that factors beyond the contractor's control may cause delays; .. Clearly stated costs of the product and or service, payment terms and conditions: when and what amounts, the total price you will pay, the amount of each payment and the date of your first payment; the interest rate of any financing, the amount of that interest rate, any trade-ins, rebates or other discounts. Final payment should be made upon your approval of work performed and receipt of proof that everyone involved in the job was paid; .. Confirmation of all the verbal promises in words which support what you believe was said. If the words do not appear to cover what was said, ask for a written revision of the clause; and .. A rider stating all changes, whether or not they increase the cost, must be submitted and approved in writing.