Tips for hiring a contractor
1. Don't hire based on lowest price alone. The basis of a contractor's price is important. Do not simply hire a contractor with the lowest estimate. Examine and breakdown each estimate. If the contractor's price is considerably lower than other estimates, his standard of workmanship may not be up to par with more qualified contractors. Weigh all factors-price quote, references, and professionalism before making a decision.
2. Communication is key! When you interview a potential contractor, you should feel comfortable speaking with him. Explain the goals you have for your project. Can the contractor give you real solutions? Communication is the key to a productive client/contractor relationship.
3. Consider hiring a designer for larger projects. For larger projects, such as a room addition or even a significant landscaping project, seriously consider hiring an architect or designer first. The designer will help detail exactly what you want, and he can draw a set of plans and material specifications for your project. DL Restoration & Builders Corp. will recommend and provide an architect or designer whenever it is necessary.
4. Ask for a list of references. This is your best way to judge a contractor's experience and professionalism. Take time to contact at least three references. You should also ask for pictures of completed projects and confirm with the home owner that those pictures are representative of the work completed.
5. Call the references, here's what to ask.
•How was the quality of the craftsmanship?
•How well did the contractor stay on budget according to the original estimate?
•Did the contractor use a change order form for any changes?
•How timely was the contractor during the course of the job?
•Were you happy with his/her professionalism?
•How were the subcontractors and workers that were on the job?
•Did they keep the job site clean and safe?
•Was the contractor or his site manager on the job to supervise as necessary?
•Would you ever use this contractor again?
•Would you refer them to a friend?
6. How long has the contractor been in business?
Research has shown that contractor's with three or more years of experience are likely to have a solid business foundation, and are therefore more likely to be reliable.
7. Verify insurance. It is extremely important that a contractor be properly insured to protect you from potential legal problems. A contractor should have the following types of coverage:
•Workman's Compensation Insurance - protects you in case a worker is injured on your property.
•General Liability Insurance - covers you in case a contractor damages your property.
•Tracking Number from NYC Department of Buildings – indicates an up to date, clear insurance and licensing record with the DOB.
8. Check to see if the contractor has a license, and if so, that it is valid.
A license is required in New York State. You should not hire an unlicensed contractor. To find out if a contractor is licensed, call 3-1-1 or go to www.nyc.gov/consumer. Make sure you have the name and address of the contractor and/or remodeling business.
9. Be sure your contract contains these elements.
•Your contract should state how long the project should take for completion.
•If there is a payment schedule it should be included in the contract. A payment schedule will detail when payment is due to a contractor and how much money you will pay him. Often, you will pay specified amounts at certain milestones in your contract. To avoid miscommunication and confusion, payments should be made at clearly defined intervals. Often, a contractor will request a deposit when you sign a contract. Any advance deposit should be roughly equivalent with the risk involved for the contractor. For example, if your contractor needs to special order materials before construction begins, you may be asked to cover some of the special order costs in the deposit. In that case, the homeowner may ask for the supplier name for the custom orders being billed.
•If a contractor offers a written warranty, it should be referenced in the contract. The warranty should cover materials and workmanship. The length of the warranty period and any limitations should also be clearly stated. In general, a warranty for installation should be at least one year. p> •Your contract should include the Federal Trade Commission's three day right of rescission. The FTC's right of rescission clause allows you to void your contract within three business days of its signing.
•The contract should state that the contractor must agree to purchase all applicable permits.
•The contract should reference the contractor's insurance.
•Your contract should include specific details explaining the duties of the homeowner and the duties of the contractor. Detailing each party's specific duties in the contract will help you avoid confusion and delays once your project has begun. We strongly recommend that the homeowner should not commence the start of a construction or remodeling project until all custom ordered items to be supplied by owner have been delivered to the job site, for this may cause the work to be delayed.
•The scope of work and specifications for your project should be included in your contract. Scope of work details exactly what the contractor will do during the project. There should be no generalities in this section, only specific details explaining exactly what work the contractor will perform. Specifications for your project should include an exact list of materials to be used, with brand names of materials (where applicable) and exact measurements for your project.