Q:

What should be considered when choosing a home improvement contractor?

A:

Quick Answer

Reputation, qualifications, certifications, cost and liability are factors to consider when hiring a home improvement contractor. Some states don’t require a written agreement, but it’s advisable in case something goes wrong with the project.

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Full Answer

Friends, family and co-workers are good ways to find a reputable contractor. They can provide information such as whether a contractor they've used finished on time and on budget and whether they would hire him again. Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General’s Office and state consumer protection agencies list complaints and litigation against contractors on their websites. Consumer protection agencies also list any qualifications or licenses held by a contractor and the requirements to receive them. The homeowner should request a copy of the license.

Another factor to consider is insurance coverage, and most states require contractors to have workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Some states also require contractors to be bonded. After getting estimates from multiple contractors, consider all the gathered information on the contractor rather than just the price. Estimates should include anything the home improvement project may require, including permits, sub-contractors and materials. They also should include a projected payment schedule; consumer protection agencies recommend not paying the full amount up front. All information from the estimates should be added to the written agreement before a contractor is hired.

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