Proof of Insurance
You need to see actual proof of the contractors’ insurance card to ensure that you are not held liable should an accident occur in your home.
Telephone References and Visit Previous Jobs
The proof is in the pudding. Reviewing projects similar to the one that will likely comment in your own home is the best way to have peace of mind that you have hired the right contractor for the job. And if at all possible, visit their previous jobs to get a close look at their craftsmanship.
Quotes and Procedures
Ask the contractor to itemize all of the charges (fuel surcharge, material up-charges, waste removal, labor etc.) as a line item invoice. If you would prefer a general quote than specify that at the first meeting. Also, clarify the payment or billing policy. IF the contractor requires money upfront than make sure that their references check out and that they are insured.
Permits, Permits, Permits
It is crucial to have the contractor obtain all the necessary documentation and permits required for any renovation. Once a permit is obtained and work is carried out an inspection process is required which can protect you from shoddy workmanship. Building structures properly is essential as the county that you reside in will hold you accountable for structures not being built to code.
Does your contractor use them? Does he/she plan to supervise the subcontractors each day they are on site at your project? It may be part of their standard of practice to mark up the services of a subcontractor for a profit—but you should know about it first, and it should be part of the quote so there are no surprises.
Most Importantly….Trust your Gut
Evaluate the appearance and manners of the contractor. Does he/she present themselves in a professional way? What about their employees? What type of timeline is being proposed; is it realistic? At the end of the day working with a contractor is a partnership, and both parties have to agree to the terms of a (hopefully) written quote or contract. If something doesn’t feel right then it probably is in your best interest to keep looking for the right fit. After all when the project is over you don’t want to be praying that producers pick your horror story to televise. Be picky. Very picky!