The DIY movement has inspired many people to tackle home improvement and remodeling projects on their own. However, many homeowners are discovering that such undertakings are much more complicated than they first appear. Choosing to work with professional contractors ensures professional results. To begin, a licensed contractor with a strong track record offers the know-how that comes with past experience and continuing training. Veteran contractors draw from their previous projects and offer inspiration and ideas for projects that homeowners might have otherwise have never considered as well as the ability to trouble-shoot minor issues based on previous encounters. Finally, professionals are often able to purchase materials at a lower cost than individual homeowners because contractors buy in bulk. Hiring a professional contractor can ultimately save you time and money while bringing expertise and inspiration to each project.
The decision to hire a professional contractor is a prudent one. However, a contractor without a contract is a red flag. Trying to keep track of the many conversations that occur during the planning stages of a project is nearly impossible. In addition to a contract that both parties sign, a complete Scope of Work describing the project details should be put in writing prior to finalizing the formal contract. A clear Scope of Work will help to avoid conflict and, with the addition of a Job Calendar, ensures timelines are met and guarantees the outcome is what the homeowner expects.
The DiStefano Brothers Construction Design-Build team has put together a list of critical tips that all homeowners should consider when hiring a contractor:
• A valid Contractor’s License- You would never put yourself in a car with an unlicensed driver behind the wheel. Similarly, you should never hire a contractor without a license. You can look up a contractor you are considering hiring by name or business here: http://www.crb.ri.gov/search.php or simply ask to see their credentials.
• An Address- It may sound simple, but homeowners should know exactly where their contractor is located. If a homeowner needs to get in touch with their contractor once work has commenced, a P.O. Box will not be helpful. Having a physical locality where the contractor conducts business gives the homeowner a place to discuss the project away from the construction site.
• Insurance- Accidents can happen anywhere. Homeowners should check to be sure the contractor has proper insurance coverage, otherwise the homeowner may be liable for any injuries occurring on the job. If the contractor has employees, check to be sure that they carry Workers Compensation insurance. If you hire a General Contractor, be sure to ask about coverage for any subcontractors that will be used.
• Lead Safety Certification- Contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 should be certified in lead-safe practices by the Environmental Protection Agency. If lead is discovered during a remodel, the contractor must minimize and contain dust during the project, which is crucial to the safety of those living in the home.
• Scope of Work- A detailed description of what the project includes, who is responsible for what (i.e.: contractor to supply materials vs. homeowner), the level of job site protection, and whether debris removal will be handled by the contractor or left to the homeowner. Based on the Scope of Work, an estimated cost of the project should be presented and agreed upon by both parties prior to signing a contract.
• Project Calendar- Projects often take longer than expected. Prior to beginning, the contractor should present a project calendar to the client. Having a timeline indicating when each phase of construction will start and finish as well as a target completion date will help prepare the homeowner and create clear deadlines for the contractor. Sometimes there are unforeseeable circumstances once construction begins that can shift the calendar. A good contractor will keep the client updated on any such discoveries that will impact the timeline.
• A Contract- Don’t be dismayed by length or lingo; a thorough contract will protect all parties involved in the project.
• Payment Schedule- The payment schedule should be agreed upon by both parties before work begins. It is standard practice to make payment dates coincide with major aspects of the project.
• Warranty- A standard warranty for completed work is typically one year from the completion of the project. Sometimes minor issues crop up after the project is completed. If the homeowner has done their research, finding the contractor after completion to handle any warranty issues will not be a problem.
Hiring a contractor who comprises all of the above allows the homeowner the benefit of experience, inspiration and ideas, and will ensure the project is completed in a timely fashion and to the highest quality. Thinking about a remodel? Follow the helpful tips above to begin the process of hiring a qualified contractor to help turn your vision into a reality as seamlessly as possible.
Contact our team today and enjoy a seamless process:
DiStefano Brothers Construction Inc.