Texas Cash Back Real Estate
Jill Aylwin - Real Estate Broker, Realtor, MBA
Ph: (281) 334-CASH
Selecting a Contractor: Sources and References
A good place to start your search for a contractor is by asking friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers for references. Ask about the contractor's expertise, the type of work performed, and how pleased the homeowners were with the results. Ask if they would hire the contractor again.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) can provide you with information about their local chapters and members. You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the appropriate state or local occupational/ professional licensing commission to see if complaints have been filed against a contractor. If so, ask the contractor to explain the situation and how it was resolved. This may tell you a great deal about how the contractor operates.
As you begin planning the project, you may talk informally with several contractors or local workers. You'll then want to continue narrowing your selection until you feel comfortable asking three contractors to bid on your project. You should give all of the contractors the same information about the job. Each bid should include a work write-up and specifications that describe all of the work that will be done and how much it will cost.
You can conduct initial screening over the telephone to eliminate names of contractors who are not well suited for your project. Among the questions to ask:
What is their specialty and how long have they been in business?
Do they have all the necessary licenses required by your state and/or municipality?
Do they periodically take training classes in their specialty and are they a member of a professional organization?
Listen to how the contractor responds to the questions and be wary of those who refuse to provide this information. Also, avoid contractors who work through a post office box and pager instead of using a business address and telephone number. It may be difficult to track them down when you need them.
Once you have a short list of contractors, schedule meetings at your home to discuss the project. Look for a contractor who takes the time to walk through the house, makes suggestions about how to approach the project, and is comfortable working within your budget.
Ask each contractor for three references from homeowners who have had similar projects completed. Call the references and ask if you can see the work. Also, confirm that the work the contractor performed for them indeed is similar to the work you are having done, and ask whether they had any problems or surprises during the project and how they were resolved.
Make sure the contractor has liability and workmen's compensation insurance coverage. The contractor should provide you with a statement from an insurance company that lists the coverage amounts or a means of contacting the agent. In addition, ask for proof of any licensing or bonding required in your area.
Finally, you may want to check with the Better Business Bureau and the appropriate state or local agencies to determine if any complaints have been filed against the contractor, and, if so, the nature of the complaints. You can also check licensing requirements with the state or local agencies and verify that the contractor is properly licensed for the work to be performed.
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