Top Tips While Working with a Contractor

  1. Know what you want before you get estimates – its best to have a detailed drawing of the project with exactly what you want and the materials you expect to use. If you leave the ideas up to a contractor, chances are your project will get much bigger than expected.
  2. Interview at least 3 contractors – I can’t stress this enough. Make sure they’re licensed and have all the necessary insurances. If available, go check one of their current projects and see how they conduct themselves in the field. Is the job site clean and a safe working environment?
  3. Choose the right Contractor for the right job – You need to make sure your project is within their ability. A contractor that specializes in bathroom remodels might not be your best bet for a complete house addition which requires understanding foundations, loads, maximum span, roof lines, etc.
  4. Ask what will be done by employees and what will be done by subs – Understanding the hierarchy of the project will keep delays to a minimum.
  5. Expect the contractor to be too busy to start now – A general rule of thumb is a busy contractor is usually a good contractor.
  6. Signed Detailed Contract – The most important piece of working with a contractor. The more detailed, the better protection for both parties. Should include:
    1. Detailed Drawing
    2. Cost Estimates
    3. Scope of Work
    4. Critical Paths
    5. Change Orders
    6. Payment Schedules
    7. Budget Overruns
    8. Delays
    9. Lien Waivers
  7. Don’t pay more than 30% down when you sign the contract. – You don’t want the contractor to use your money to finish another job
  8. Get Proper Permits – The quickest way to get a project shut down is to start without the proper permits. Your Contractor should know all the local building inspectors.
  9. Negotiate hours of work and ground rules at the beginning – If you’re living in the house while the project is going on, you need to have an understanding of when work begins and ends each day. You’re world is going to be turned upside down, so a little privacy goes a long way.
  10. Verify Insurance – Verify Insurance – Verify Insurance – Your Contractor must have workers comp and general liability insurance before any work should be performed.
  11. Expect 10-15% over budget – Your contractor can’t see behind walls so expect hidden problems up front.
  12. Talk to your Contractor often – The best way to make sure your project stays on time and within the scope of work.
  13. Get Lien Releases and Receipts for materials
  14. Don’t make final payment until 100% satisfied – A punch list should be completed with the contractor to include timely corrections.