Lately we have been meeting quite a few homeowner that have been put in predicaments by their contractor. When you have decided to go through with a project you need to make sure of a few things. First, you need to come up with a budget of what you plan on spending for this particular project. This figure is not always met, but this will give you a good starting point. When budgeting a project, guessing is not a method, you will need to do some research to find out the common cost of your project. A good source of average prices in on www.CostHelper.com. Once you have a beginning budgeted price you can focus on researching any particular materials you may want to have used. If this is beyond you, then you can ask the contractors to give you some different material options within their quotes/scopes. By letting a contractor put what “THEY WANT”, in your house is okay, as long as you are apart of the discussion and decision. Remember, this is your house and once the project is finished and the contractor leaves, it is you alone that will need to know what was done and/or used. There are plenty of contractors that will not want to do this and those are the contractors you need to stay away from. If a contractor is dragging their feet about getting your some different material options, giving you some answers or pricing your project in a few different ways, then you are using the WRONG contractor. As a contractor for over 20 years, we take pride in working with our customers, hand in hand to decide what is best for you. NO CONTRACTOR KNOWS what is best for you, they may know what is best for the situation, but your budget and decisions regulate the situation.
Once you have a budget and some materials picked out, you need to get in touch with a few contractors to give you a quotation. It is a good rule of thumb, to get a quote from up to (3) three contractors. This will allow you to review their prices and scopes to make sure everyone is pricing the project the same way (“Apples to Apples”), and everyone is supplying the same quality materials. When you receive a quotation and scope it should include different line items included in the project, any materials being used, project duration, and a firm price. When contractors want to give you a “Lump Sum Price”, there is a huge change mid project they will be asking for more money for some sort of change or another. You want and should only deal with DETAILED Quotes and Scopes.
Another MAJOR rule, that is often overlooked, is to request copies of the contractors Certificate of Liability Insurance (this protects your house and any work being performed), copies of any trade licenses they hold, and a copy of their business license. Asking for 2- recent references with photos is a plus as well. When you are in the beginning stages of your project, this is when you want to weed out the bad apples. If you are in a hurry and push through, that is when you get stuck with a bad contractor. Once you are wrapped up with a negligent contractor, it is an ordeal to get loose and get your money back. So these tasks and tips should be done first to help you dodge this problems later in the project.
To recap, there are four IMPORTANT tasks that every homeowner should do before each project. If these tasks are done, you will greatly prevent your chances of linking up with the wrong contractor.
- Prepare a Beginning Budget
- Research/ Price any Particular Materials
- Contact Minimum of (3) Contractors for a Quote
- Request Copies of Licenses, Insurance and References
If you have any questions concerning your upcoming project or even if you have a problem project, do not hesitate to contact us for our PROFESSIONAL advice at 703-772-4992.
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