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A. Spruce
Hiring a Contractor

Hiring a contractor shouldn't be difficult, but oddly enough is tougher than it may seem. Whether you require handyman services or a full-service contractor to help you with your needs there are some rules and guidelines to choosing the right company that is right for you and your needs.

This topic was born out of another discussion that got side tracked from the original issue. In an effort to return that topic back to the poster, and to help others in need of professional services, we now have our very own place to list hints and tips. Most of the folks who populate this forum are well respected, long time tradesmen and business people. We are not employees of TOH or Time Inc and have no affiliation with this site other than the desire to help those who come for assistance.

To my fellow professionals, please list what you recommend to your clients and other individuals seeking help. To all homeowners and DIY'ers, don't be bashful about asking questions on how to find good, reliable, competent help.

A. Spruce
Re: Hiring a Contractor

IMHO, hiring a handyman or contractor should be handled with the same care and caution as choosing a medical practitioner.

1 - Ask trusted family and friends for recommendations. You'll find your best help from those sources, people who have had first hand dealings with a company and will recommend them with confidence. You will likely be able to see some of the work that the craftsman has done to be able to determine if they are suitable for your project.

2 - The interview. When the tradesman arrives, pay attention to the vehicle they drive, their appearance, and their demeanor. The adage of "you can't judge a book by it's cover", isn't accurate, it's been my experience that what you see will be commensurate with the quality of workmanship you get. Pay particular attention to how you feel while interacting with the individual. Keep in mind that you'll be home alone with them while they work, you may have to leave children or animals alone with them, or you may be required to leave them unattended in your home. If you are not comfortable with any of these scenarios, then this is not the professional for you.

Understand that this interview will be as much about you as it is the contractor. The contractor will be assessing whether or not you are a compatible match for them as well.

3 - Always get multiple bids on the work you need done. Make it clear exactly what you require, even make a list. If you come up with other things while walking the potential contractor around the job, then you should add these items to your list as well. When the bid is returned to you, make sure that each item has been addressed to your satisfaction. The contractor should walk you through it as well, to make sure your needs are covered. If everything looks in order, then the price quoted will likely be close to the actual cost. Keep in mind that there is almost always something that requires further attention once a job starts that couldn't be foreseen, which will add to the final tally.

DO NOT choose a contractor based on price alone, particularly if the bid is significantly lower than the others. A rule of thumb is that you can toss the highest and lowest bids, the remaining ones are likely to be the most accurate. There are exceptions to every rule. Low price does not automatically mean shoddy workmanship, just as high price is not indicative of high quality.

4 - Once you've selected a potential contractor, then checking up on their credentials may be in order. Most states have some sort of contractor governing authority. If you are unsure of whom this may be, contact your local building department for details. Providing everything is to your liking, you have the right to request proof of insurance, bonding, and business license status. Most contractors are reluctant to submit to this level of scrutiny without commitment from you, though will freely give this information upon signing of a contract.

This will get you started, though there are other things to consider and be aware of that will be added to this list as we go along. Hopefully you find this information helpful when it comes time to hire a professional.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

A.Spruce .. great idea and great points.

To add to the list:

I would encourage the homeowners to educate themselves as to what will be involved in whatever project is being done. This will allow you to have a basic understanding as to what the contractor would be discussing with you and assist with making your decisions. This will also help with preventing confusion or miscommunication while the project is underway or after completion. Part of this education is to check the local building permits department they are a valuable resource for information. They will inform you whether or not permits are required and if a contractor discourages you from getting them ... stay away from that one.

Be cautious of contractors that "can start the next day".
Generally good contractors are busy and with a few exceptions will provide a date available in the future.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

Be real...sit down with the contractor after you've checked out his or her credentials and be real with them. See if they're a good fit for you.
Credentials aren't all you need.
You're gonna be living with this person in your home for weeks or how ever long.
You actually should like the person...their attitude and demeanor.

No matter how careful we are in your home its gonna get dusty and yer not gonna like it....thats a fact Jack..it goes along with the territory.
as for me...I do every single thing imaginable to keep your property clean but no ones perfect.
I even use products like these but even these aren't fool proof.
YOu need to know that the person in your home is someone you can trust to do their best..someone you can talk to and reason with.
And you too..you need to "help" to try and keep your home safe and tidy.
Keep your dogs away...keep your kids away...check your driveway as you walk down it...its possible I might have missed picking up a nail...I'm only human. It takes all of us to make your project go smoothly.

Offer me a glass of water once in while...just let us know you care. Its just a nice thing to do. A good attitude goes really far!!

Remember...we're going to be living with you for a while.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

I am not a contractor but I am a landlord and I have had maybe a bit more contractors come to my rental house than the average homeowner because of wear and tear to the house. I have one story in particular to tell you about this house that we inherited from my grandmother that we rent.A story about a big mistake we made so that others may learn from us. We had some painters come to our house after having picked them out of the phone book. They said I can do this quickly and be out of your house very soon. So we said sure and that we were going to remove the carpet and they could begin painting.
What we didn't realize and never asked about is how they were going to paint and what they were going to do to protect our floors. What we found out to our horror is that they were going to spray paint and since we had removed the carpet already which was very dirty they never put anything down to protect our floors.
Too late to do much about it later we found out what they had done.
So the number one rule get an exact description of what is going to be done and don't do it when emotions are high.
Rule number Two get it in writing.
Rule Number three ask if the crew speaks english. The painters that came never spoke one word of very good english. I think everyone should have an equal chance Of getting a job but at least one person needs to be able to speak your language well.
Rule number four and the last rule speak to the boss not his supervisor. When the contractor came for his money he didn't come himself but rather sent his supervisor out to collect the money. We were so mad about the job that we went ahead and paid to get rid of the guy. We really should have demanded that he refinish our hardwood floors or at least get rid of more of the paint on the floors and we should have talked more with the owner.
I think the best advice of all is get plenty of references which we failed to do and don't be in a hurry to do something. When you rush through something you start to do mistakes.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

The real horror story here is that you paid them giving them licsense to go on to the next unsuspecting soul thinking they can get away with this again. Amazing.
I know another person that had a similar experiance. somone with a vast business background yet. They had mosaic tile put on their new kitchen counter backsplash above some very expensive honed granite countertop. When I saw the work I was in shock. The tiles were all misaligned and not flush with one another as well. Looked like speed bumps throughout. The H.O said they were told midway through the job that those mosaics weren't meant for a backsplash. I personally have installed mosaics like this dozens of times.

I asked if they paid the contractor and sure enough...like you... they did and barely said a word. Amazing.
BTW....this contractor came with several good refrences.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

I agree with Andybuildz you are certainly right in saying that we should have never paid for such a terrible mess. Like you when you saw that horrible tile job I was in shock. The first day I saw the paint on what was for the most part fairly beautiful floors it was late and the painters had left for the day. So after they left I went over to the house and literally started crying and then cursing them. That I knew though would do me no good so knowing I had some paint thinner at home I immediately went back to the house and started cleaning up what I could clean up. Later the next day I spoke to one of the workers who spoke fairly good though broken english and told him and his men to continue cleaning the mess up as I couldn't get his supervisor. They did but to this day the floors under the carpet are still a mess. We debated about this as we certainly didn't want to pay the man but decided that he would never admit guilt and indeed upon reflection back on those days I remember we did ask his supervisor to call his boss and have him come over. The guy did come over the next day and said you never told me to cover the floors and acted like it was my fault of all things. He even had the nerve to say that he would never have authorized his men to clean the floors but that he would not charge us for the clean up. So I knew from that day on that he would never pay us for damages even if we had won a civil suit. I even had proof with pictures of how the floors looked before paint got on them as I was going to install new cabinets and the boxes were covering some of the floor. Luckily the cabinets were never damaged. So after the paint dried I was able to take some fairly telling pictures.
If I had to do it all over again though I would certainly have brought a lawsuit against the contractor. So I think the most important rule is to know a good lawyer. We do now as we did have to evict someone and if we had a problem with a contractor certainly wouldn't hesitate to call on his services again. So don't do like we did. Learn from our mistakes.

Re: Hiring a Contractor

Before hiring a contractor we should clear the following points:-

1. Know about the charges. if you get itemized bids then it will show the prize for various elements as below.
HVAC, Plumming, Lighting fixture etc.

2. How long you are working in this town.

3. who are your main supplier.

4. I would like to meet the job foreman.


There are many question in our mind before hiring contractor.

Thank you

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