How to Choose a Contractor

Thing to consider when choosing a contractor

Depending on the initial cost of your investment property and your ability to do home improvement projects yourself, it may become necessary to hire a contractor to help with specialty jobs that you can’t do yourself. Finding a reliable, competent contractor can be almost as difficult and stressful as doing the work yourself. After all, you want to find someone who will provide quality work at a price that doesn’t defeat the purpose of your investment.

Whether you only need a professional for a single upgrade or repair or you want to hire a general contractor to oversee the entire project, the following tips will help ensure you choose a quality contractor that’s trustworthy.

Know what you want before beginning your search

Have a general idea of what you want to do before you begin searching for a contractor. Don’t rely on a contractor to tell you what you need as this can lead to going over-budget quickly.

Ask for referrals

Ask family members and close friends for contractor recommendations. If you know other investors, get their opinions as to who does the best work at the most affordable prices. Do this before turning to the Internet for suggestions.

Check out more than one contractor

Even if you really like the first contractor you talk to, get bids from a couple more so you can compare. Even if you decide to go with the first one you talked to, you’ll learn something new from each one.

Don’t be surprised if your contractor can’t start right away

The best contractors are the busiest, so don’t be surprised if yours can’t begin work right away.

Do a background check

The contractor you choose should be licensed to work in the state in which you live. It’s a good idea to go online and check the Better Business Bureau and other review sites to see if anyone has lodged complaints against them.

Keep in mind that a couple of negative reviews isn’t a deal-breaker as most people won’t leave a review if they’re satisfied with the service they receive. They are, however, quick to post a bad review if they aren’t happy.

Only sign a detailed contract

The contract you sign with your contractor should be highly detailed. It should include what materials will be used, how much everything will cost, and a timeline for the project. Any changes or additions should be added immediately. Remember, if it’s not outlined in the contract explicitly, it can’t stand up in court.

Don’t trust a contractor that recommends working without the proper permits

Not obtaining the proper permits can lead to hassles should you ever decide to sell your home. Most home improvement projects require a permit, so if your contractor suggests ignoring this fact to save you time and money, it’s best to steer clear of him.

Don’t pay too much upfront

You really shouldn’t pay more than 10 percent upfront to any contractor. In some cases, they may ask for more if the materials needed are quite expensive.

Make sure the contract contains a payment schedule and don’t pay for the project in full until it is 100 percent complete.

As an investor, you want to spend as little as possible to bring a property up to par. You may be able to do some of the work yourself, but should you need to hire a contractor, the tips above will help you choose a good one.

by Cheri Crause

originally published on

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