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WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CHOOSE A QUALIFIED HOME-IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR FOR A LARGE JOB?

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A contractor’s accountability and long-term reputation are more important to you as a homeowner than the lowest bid. Contact three candidates for your job and meet with each of them three times: in their offices, on a job site and with a past client. 

When you visit the office:

  • Obtain a list of suppliers, subcontractors and past customers as references. If a supplier or subcontractor appears on more than one of your candidates’ lists, call and ask which one the person would hire to work on his own home.
  • Look at the contractor’s scheduling system. A written or graphed schedule will show you the contractor is well-organized and plans ahead.
  • Ask to see how the contractor figures out how much a job costs. A good job-costing system shows the contractor knows true costs.
  • Learn which professional memberships, certifications and awards the contractor has earned. This shows his commitment to ongoing education and industry excellence.

When you visit the job site:
 
Talk to the homeowner for whom the contractor is working. Ask:
 

  • Is the contractor qualified for the job?
  • Were there many days when nothing happened on the project? 
  • When subcontractors arrived, did they know what to do? Were they adequately supervised?
  • Has the contractor stuck to the schedule?
  • Were there any surprises, such as items the contractor forgot or did not foresee? How did he handle the surprises?
  • Has the contractor changed his estimate or the scope of the work? 

When you visit the past client:
 
Ask the same questions as above, plus:

  • Was any aspect of the project forgotten?
  • How did the contractor protect areas of your home that were not to be disturbed?
  • Did the contractor and his crew leave your home clean?

Obtain estimates only from the contractors who make it through the three interviews with flying colors. If you have concerns with a contractor at this early point, you can count on problems down the road.

  • Sanderson Ford

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