1. Ask for Recommendations!
Start with your friends and family and then check in with the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield for a list of members. You can also talk with a building inspector, who’ll know which contractors routinely meet code requirements, pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time. Another easy way to ask for recommendations from a broader range of acquaintances is to make a “looking for recommendations” post on Facebook. Your Facebook friends will love to tell you which contractors were amazing, and also which ones to avoid.
2. Complete Phone Interviews.
Here’s a few key questions to ask: Are you insured & what type(s) of insurance do they carry. Do they take on projects of your size? Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks? Can they give you a list of previous clients as references? How many other projects would they have going at the same time? How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
The answers to these questions will give you insight to the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.
3. Have a Face to Face Meeting.
Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease about your upcoming. It’s imperative that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours, days & even weeks at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check in with your Missouri’s consumer protection agency and the Springfield Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.
4. Get Bids
You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it’s time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A good contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent.
5. Get. It. In. Writing!!!
Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. Insisting on a clear contract isn’t about mistrust, t’s about insuring a successful renovation or new construction project.
Finally, remember that as soon as a change order is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer.
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