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4 steps to hiring a qualified contractor

April 20, 2015

The spring season is a popular time for home renovations and repairs. Many homeowners choose to hire a contractor to complete these projects in order to ensure the job is completed professionally and in a timely manner. Unfortunately, an unqualified contractor can wreak havoc on your home insurance. Here are four steps to hiring a contractor for your next home renovation project.

Make sure you hire a qualified contractor for your next home renovation project.

1. Get a referral

The best advice on just about anything comes from people who have experienced it first hand. The same rule applies with hiring a contractor. First, speak with family and neighbors about their home renovation projects to see if they have any contractor recommendations. Ask for specific details, such as how quickly the job was done or if there was a mess left over. Another source to consider is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, as it can provide a list of qualified contractors in your area. If you already have a contractor in mind, ask if they have any customer references you could speak to about their service.

2. Find the right fit

Once you've compiled a list of options, start making phone calls and interviewing the contractor candidates. You'll want to find out what sized jobs they've done in the past, how many projects they handle at once, how long they've been working with their subcontractors and any other information related to the specific job you're looking to complete.

3. Spot the red flags

Unfortunately, some home renovation companies will take advantage of homeowners, so there's a few things to look out for when dealing with contractors. Some questionable contractors will ask for money up front. According to Houselogic, you should never pay more than $1,000 or 10 percent of the total cost of the job. This will prevent a situation in which contractors steal your money or do lousy work.

All contractors must have a building permit in order to do any significant construction job. An unlicensed contractor will try to avoid this at all costs, so be on alert if they won't show you the permit. Never apply for a building permit yourself unless you're doing the job on your own. Otherwise, the responsibility of following safety codes falls on you instead of the contractor actually working on the project.

Some scams come from people who aren't even from a legitimate business. Always make sure you get a business card from any potential contractors, and do plenty of research on their backgrounds. If something looks suspicious, it's better to go with your gut and not hire that person.

4. Set up a solid contract

Once you've made the decision on which contractor you plan to hire, you'll need to do a thorough review of the written legal agreement. The contract should include the contractor's contact information, contractor's obligation to secure permits, payment schedule, a site plan, schedule for construction, change-order and dispute resolution clauses, an express limited warranty and a waiver of lien.

By following these steps and conducting some research, you can hire a contractor without any worries.