10 Things to do when hiring a Contractor

Spring is here and homeowners, as always, will be raring to get to work on their homes and properties. Some are handy enough to tackle their own projects, but many will turn to contractors to make their visions a reality. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering a Top Ten list of things people should do before hiring a contractor.

“Remodel/build projects can be very exciting, but they can also be very stressful,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “A great way to manage a good deal of that stress is by getting things right on the front end of the project.”

Here are 10 things everyone should do when hiring a contractor:

* Check out their track record. Contact BBB to obtain free Business Reviews on any company you’re considering hiring. Visit bbb.org or call 1-800-646-6222.

* Solicit multiple quotes. Shop around and get at least three written estimates.

* Verify license and insurance. Ensure that companies have a current license to perform work in Minnesota (doli.state.mn.us), as well as liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

* Ask for references. Get references from recent jobs and verify them before signing a contract. Be leery of people who say they have leftover materials from a nearby project; ensure they are an employee of the business they claim to be representing, and take time to research the business.

*Inquire about a lien waiver. A lien waiver is a statement from the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Be sure to ask whether the contractor will provide you with a lien waiver upon completion of the work.

*Don’t forget building permits. Permits are for your protection and help ensure work will meet local building codes. Check with your contractor before starting your project. Homeowners bear the cost of building permits, but companies should be responsible for obtaining any necessary permits.

*Consider future service issues. Keep in mind that if you choose a contractor or company that isn’t local you need to know who to contact in regard to any service needs that may arise after completion of the project.

*Get everything in writing. Don’t allow work to commence without a signed, written contract that includes project start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done and warranty information. Be aware that anything you sign is a contract.

*Don’t rely on verbal promises. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranties on materials and/or labor.

*Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full in advance of a project. Stagger your payments according to agreed-upon stages of work completion and don’t make a final payment until all work is finished. Never pay in cash; use check or credit card.