Educational Consumer Tips

Home Builders/Home Improvement Contractors

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following comments provide general information for consumers, and do not necessarily reflect the practices or record of any particular company.

If you are considering building a home or hiring a general contractor, deal with someone whose work is well known. Check with friends or neighbors for names of several contractors. Get bids based on the same set of specifications and materials. Get local customer references from the bidding companies and go check the work. Ask the homeowners questions about the contractor and his work.

Make sure that your chosen contractor has written liability and workmen's compensation insurance covering employee injuries.

Before you sign the contract, it's a good idea to drive by the business address to make sure it's not just an answering service or a vacant lot or building.

Thoroughly read and understand the contract before signing and never sign a blank or partially blank contract. A written contract should be easy to read, with all the services to be performed spelled out. Written contracts may include such things as: a list of materials to be used, a starting and completion date, written payment schedule. If there is any warranty information on labor and materials, get this in writing also. Make sure that the building permits are in the contractor's name. It is the contractor's job to obtain any necessary permits. It would also be a good idea, especially for a home building contract, to have your attorney review it completely before you sign it.

Never make final payment until the work is completed and the job site cleaned up. Typically, payment should be 1/3 down, with payments due at various stages of the work.

These are some helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau.