How to Deal With Contractors

Not everyone is aware of how to deal with contractors. Imagine that your Home Improvement Loan has been granted. What do you do next? Do you rush out and find the first available contractor and offer them your cash? Not a good move.

Whether you're planning an addition for a growing family or simply getting new double-glazed windows, finding a competent and reliable contractor is the first step to a successful and satisfying home improvement project. Take your time to consider all your options. Do not rush into any agreement that you may later regret.

Your home may be your most valuable financial asset. That's why it's important to be cautious when you hire someone to work on it. Home improvement contractors often advertise in newspapers or the Yellow Pages. However, don't consider an advert to be an indication of the quality of a contractor's work. Your best bet is to find a contractor that has been used successfully by friends, family or colleagues. Get written estimates from several firms. Don't automatically choose the lowest bidder.

Above all, be wary of contractors who will:

solicit door-to-door

offer you discounts for finding other customers

just happens to have materials left over from a previous job

only accept cash payments

does not list a business number in the local telephone directory

pressure you for an immediate decision

offer exceptionally long guarantees

ask you to pay for the entire job up-front

Interview each contractor and ask:

How long have you been in business?

How many projects like mine have you completed?

Will my project require a permit?

May I have a list of references?

Will you be using subcontractors on this project?

What types of insurance do you carry?

Talk with some of the contractor's former customers and ask:

Can I visit your home to see the completed job?

Were you satisfied with the project?

Was it completed on time?

Did workers show up on time?

Did they clean up after finishing the job?

Would you recommend the contractor?

Would you use the contractor again?

You should not start any project without having a contract in place. A contract spells out the, who, what, where, when and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete. Before you sign a contract, make sure it contains:

The contractor's name, address, phone nubmer

The payment schedule for the contractor

An estimated start and completion date

How change orders will be handled

A detailed list of all materials

Warranties covering materials and workmanship

What the contractor will and will not do

Keep all paperwork related to your project in one place. This includes copies of the contract, change orders and correspondence with your home improvement professionals. You also might want to take photographs as the job progresses. These records are especially important if you have problems with your project - during or after construction.

Before you sign off and make the final payment check that:

All work meets the standards spelled out in the contract.

You have written warranties for materials and workmanship.

The job site has been cleaned up and cleared of excess materials, tools and equipment.

You have inspected and approved the completed work.

You may freely reprint this article provided the author's biography remains intact:

John Mussi is the founder of Direct Online Loans who help UK homeowners find the best available loans via the website.

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