ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Home Improvement Contractors - How to Choose Them

Updated on August 7, 2013

Home Improvement Can Be Expensive

Source

Home Improvements need not be a nightmare


In a difficult real estate market, many homeowners decide to improve their homes rather than look for a new one. When the home market was hot, you would simply put your house up for sale to buy a new one to accommodate a growing family. But with the uncertainty of finding a buyer, trading up is no longer simple option, and improving what you have is often the best choice.

Renovation rather than trading can be the best choice. But , unless you are talented in the construction arts, renovation usually means hiring a general contractor to do the job for you. Finding a construction company or home improvement contractor is the easy part: they're all over the place. But finding the right home improvement contractor is the tricky part. It's not only tricky, it's the most essential part of your home improvement project. Hire a bad contractor and your project can become a nightmare. Hire a good one and your project can be as exciting as buying a new home. It's about more than just money; it's about avoiding emotional turmoil.

The Worksite Should Be Cleaned Every Day

Source

The Telltale Signs of a Bad Home Improvement Contractor

  • You are asked for a large down payment and the contractor doesn't show up for weeks, sometimes never.
  • The contractor shows up sporadically, does a little work and then disappears for a while.
  • At the end of every day on the job, the construction site is a shambles with dust and dangerous debris everywhere.
  • You constantly call the contractor, but always get an answering machine, never a return phone call.
  • When the job is eventually completed there is a "punch list" of things that need to be redone or otherwise corrected.

The Steps You Must Take to Avoid Hiring the Wrong Home Improvement Contractor

Every time you make an important decision, especially a major financial one, you have to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. If you make the wrong decision up front, correcting it is like putting scrambled eggs back into a shell. You want to look back and enjoy the results of your project. You don't want to sit in a lawyer's office and listen to what you should have done. Here is a list of the steps that you must take, and those to avoid, when hiring a home improvement contractor.

  • Do not trust your gut instinct. Many people consider themselves to be excellent judges of character. When they interview home improvement contractors, they assume that they can tell whether he's competent based on what he says.This is a big a mistake as hiring an employee for your business based on an interview alone. The contractor, just like a prospective employee, is on his or her best behavior because there is a job at stake.
  • Insist on a list of at least five local references of people for whom the contractor has done work. This is crucial. If he's reluctant and tries to give you a story about protecting the privacy of his clients, end the interview immediately. When you do get the references, call every person on the list. Ask if you can see the finished work. Unless you're a journalist, you may not be adept at jotting down notes from a phone interview. So have a few questions that can be rated on a scale of one to five, with one being the best and five being the worst. Here are some good rating type questions to ask:

·Overall satisfaction with the contractor? (1-5)

·Was the job completed in a timely manner? (1-5)

·Did the contractor correct any problems to your satisfaction? (1-5)

·Was the price reasonable? (1-5)

  • Research for any complaints against the contractor. Most local governments, usually at the county level, provide licenses to contractors. Not only do they license the contractor, they often serve as a central clearing house of complaints. Check this list carefully.
  • "Independent" reviews. Companies that provide consumer reviews, such as the heavily advertised Angie's List, should be treated with a bit of caution. Not only does Angie's List provide you with complaints about a wide variety of trades and professions, there are a lot of complaints about Angie's List itself.Suppose you're a contractor. Now suppose you're a contractor with a lot of friends. Do you think it will be difficult to convince some of your friends to write a few glowing reviews about you on Angie's List? There have been reports of a competitor posting a bad review of a contractor. Let's face it, the Internet allows for this kind of abuse. The Better Business Bureau is a serious organization, and you should search its records for the name of a prospective contractor.
  • Insist on a written contract. An oral contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. Have the contract reviewed by an attorney. The few bucks that you will spend in legal fees will be well worth it.
  • Ask if the contractor has ever been known by any other name, and put a statement to that effect right in the contract. You want to know if the smiling representative of a prospective contractor has ever been known as Snidely Whiplash, the Destroyer of Homes, Inc. It's easy to fold one corporation and start up a new one. This is known as changing names to protect the guilty.
  • ·The payment schedule. This is the most important part of the contract, and your lawyer will focus on it. Never sign a home improvement contract that has a small final payment at the end. You want the contractor to have an incentive to get the job done, and having a substantial final payment will ensure that the job gets finished.

Your exciting home improvement project should not end up in court. Follow the steps in this article and you will pop the cork on a bottle of champagne at the end of the job, rather than popping your own cork in anger.

Copyright ©2012 by Russell F. Moran

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 

      6 years ago from Pasadena CA

      I've never had need to hire one, but friends have, and they've reported nearly all of those problems you mention. Good hub, rfmoran.

    • furniturez profile image

      furniturez 

      6 years ago from Washington

      I can't stand those home contractors that take advantage of people... makes me sick!

    • rfmoran profile imageAUTHOR

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks for your comment

      Spartacus. May all Your

      projects be stress free.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      6 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very practical hub. You offer many important tips which will help individuals to do their homework before making this important decision. I agree hiring a bad contractor can cause a lot of nightmares.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)