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How to Select a Qualified, Ethical Contractor

Don’t let reports of a few bad apples keep you from moving forward with a remodeling project. Instead, empower yourself by doing your due diligence in order to spot a qualified, ethical contractor.

Interview several contractors until you find three that you would feel comfortable working with.  ‘Good things come to those who wait.’, so be patient and don’t settle for anyone you don’t feel totally comfortable with.

The obvious points to check are references, license(s) and insurance coverage.  When checking references also ask questions about ease of communication, interaction with neighbors, and whether there were clear lines of responsibility for every detail (i.e. who selects and/or purchases fixtures?). Don’t forget to ask behavioral questions of both the contractor and his/her references to reveal past performance in similar situations as these responses are predictors of future performance and whether or not the contractor is principled.

Don’t just stop at speaking with references…visit them for an opportunity to view the build quality of the contractor’s work first-hand.  Take a look a recent projects as well as projects that were completed several years prior so you can see how those projects held up with normal wear and tear.

When checking licenses, verify with the state licensing board that the contractor is appropriately licensed for the work to be performed, the license will remain active throughout the construction phase and the contractor has a clean record with them. With respect to insurance coverage don’t just take the contractor’s word for it. Obtain copies of the contractor’s insurance certificates to verify that the contractor carries insurance that will protect you from claims arising from job site injuries or property damage.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency to determine whether any complaints have been filed against the contractor and the status of these complaints.  More telling than a complaint is whether the contractor has a track record of NOT resolving complaints.  It would be in your best interest to steer clear of a contractor with a series of unresolved complaints.

Every homeowner wants a good job, at a great price, done quickly.   However, the reality is that you cannot have all three, so most homeowners focus on price at the expense of build quality.  Ask yourself which two of the three criteria are important to you and keep them in mind when interviewing contractors and obtaining bids from them based on the same set of construction documents.

Lastly, avoid contractors with poorly written contracts that leave room for misinterpretation or those requesting more than the state mandated minimum amount to start your project. These are signs of a poorly managed business.

By doing your research, you’ll be able to select the right fit contractor for your remodeling project.

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