Tips For Dealing With Contractors And Protecting Yourself

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Make A Plan

Create a detailed plan with an itemized list of what you need done. Make sure the contractor knows everything you want done, in as much detail as necessary to make sure you get the job you need.

Cheaper Usually Isn’t Better

Don’t plan to hire the cheapest contractor you can find. Most people that do this end up paying much more in the end. I have seen customers hire someone because they are cheap – and guess what? They find out there’s a reason for that. One customer I know of hired a cheap contractor and they dropped and they ended up with a tree falling through the roof of their house. There are many other cheap contractor horror stories I could tell, but you get the point. I myself have sometimes hired the cheapest company and ended up paying twice – once to get the job done badly and once again to get it done right. It’s  human nature to spend the least and hope for the best, but it isn’t worth the risk when you’re doing major work on your property. Hire on reputation, referrals, and trust your instincts about whether someone seems trustworthy and capable. If you get a bad feeling about someone, pay attention. Hiring contractors is no easy task, so do your research and homework carefully.

Check Out Online Reviews

Check them out online and verify registration and reviews on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and Home Advisor. If someone goes out of their way to give a company a review online, they probably either had a very bad experience or a very good experience. If you see a lot of bad reviews, that’s a red flag! I would never recommend hiring a company that has an average review of less than 4 on each of those sites.

Talk Is Cheap

Compare written bids, quotes or estimates – only the written contract matters. Just because someone said they would do something does not mean he is legally obligated to do it. Only what is written on the contract counts at the end of the job. Finalize a written agreement and read the quote, proposal, estimate, or bid and contract. What is the difference? Typically estimates are subject to change, this is why they are called estimates. Proposals, quotes, or bids should contain information that should not change unless noted. Written contracts vary from contractor to contractor.

Leave a Paper Trail

Be careful how and when you pay. It’s best to pay with a check or credit card, because then you have third party proof that you have paid for the work. This way you will have proof that you paid. The most common way for a contractor to enforce payment is by putting a lien on the property, but if you have proof of payment, this will not be possible.

Use an Escrow Company to Make the Deal More Solid

For big jobs, it’s a really good idea to have a third party handle and witness all transfers of money and acknowledgments that work has been completed. The customer deposits a certain amount of money with the escrow company, which will be used to pay for work according to the terms of the contract. The contractor is paid after the client provides written acknowledgment that work has been completed. This way the contractor is assured they will be paid, and the customer is assured that the work will be completed or their money will be returned.