There are several important questions to ask when choosing a home improvement contractor. Unfortunately, many homeowners are far too busy comparing prices to learn more about the specific skills and qualifications of the professionals they are considering. Without carefully pre-screening companies, however, it becomes possible to lose far more than the money you’ve paid for their services. So, without further ado, here are some essential topics to cover when pre-qualifying a provider before making a financial commitment.
Learning more about the jobs that a contractor has completed in the past is one of the best ways to gauge the amount of artistry and skill that will be applied to your project. You can ask for photos and direct references. In fact, you can even ask permission to view some of a company’s completed work in-person. Many contractors are now hosting comprehensive photo galleries of their past work, right on their professional websites. Touring these images and taking notes is one of the easiest ways to gain confidence in a prospective provider.
The best professionals in this business always offer their clients rock solid contracts. These detail the specifications of the work, including the materials that will be used and a fixed rate on labor. One key feature to ask about is whether or not the company’s standard contract includes a satisfaction guarantee. This guarantee will allow you to get any reasonable corrections, free of charge, without a lot of hassle. Your contract should additionally specify whether or not the provider will be responsible for hauling waste materials away from the project site and whether exterior bathrooms for laborers will be supplied.
It is usually best to let your contractor do all of the necessary shopping for your project on your behalf. These professionals have a keen understanding of the best materials for different purposes and often have access to special discounts from their suppliers. In the event that you’re working with a contractor who is open to you buying supplies independently, then it would still only be worth it if you know that you’ll be able save a considerable amount of cash. If this particular company tacks additional monies onto their bills for their shopping efforts and you have an in at a local vendor, then it would work in your favor. Mark-ups are generally pretty nominal though. That said, it still helps to know how these will impact your total project costs before committing to services. You should also know that property owners who purchase their own supplies often forfeit their customer satisfaction guarantees in the process, as contractors know exactly what works and what doesn’t, and they don’t feel the need to try something out that could jeopardize their success and potentially their reputation.
No matter how pressed for time you might be, getting solid proof that your provider has coverage is an essential part of the hiring process. Without adequate insurance in place, your hiring decision could cause your own homeowner insurance to become voided. Should something go awry, whether it be property damage or physical harm incurred by a laborer while on your property, it could result in financial catastrophe. This makes it vital to hire companies that have general liability insurance with sufficient limits as well as professional liability insurance that will protect you from losses resulting from work-related errors, oversights and omissions. Proof of coverage and verification of coverage limits should never come from providers themselves. This information should instead be provided by their respective insurers, who can keep you updated should lapses in coverage as the result of non-payment ever occur.
A truly knowledgeable provider can help you to save tons of cash over time. These professionals can take your design ideas to the next level by showing you easy and low-cost improvements that will increase durability and provide your property with an additional measure of protection. Thus, before hiring any provider, you must ask whether or not he or she is comfortable with offering professional suggestions. Although you likely have some basic ideas of the results you want, it’s important to have expert assistance in the final stages of planning.
Katherine Donahue loves to write about getting the best deal. Her recent work is about colleges where students attend for free.