Tips for hiring contractors


Just ensuring a contractor isn’t likely to commit fraud is just the first step in the selection process. Here are some other things you should do before making your choice:

  • Remember that the contractor you’re meeting with isn’t your only choice. Interview at least three contractors before selecting the one you’ll be hiring
  • Focus on project management because the general contractor you hire won’t actually be doing any work. His or her role is to manage budgets, subcontractors, and schedules.
  • Find you who will physically be running the job site. If it’s not the general contractor, ask to meet with the job foreman so you’re sure you’ll be comfortable working with them.
  • Provide as small a deposit as you can and make sure your payments are tied to a defined amount of work being completed. Check if your state has any rules on the size of deposits.
  • Put your deposit on a credit card so you’ll be able to challenge the charge with the credit card company if there are any issues.
  • Discuss buying some items yourself rather than relying on the contractor. That’s because the contractor marks up materials as well as labor. For example, it may be easier and less expensive for you to buy plumbing fixtures.
  • If your project requires a great deal of design work make sure to discuss that with the contractor and review prior design related work. You can hire an architect or designer if it makes sense.
  • Always ask for an itemized bid that breaks the work down by trade so you can compare the various packages put together by contractors. For example, one contractor may use a particular flooring contractor who charges far more than other contractors.
  • Ask for the bid to be a fixed price rather than just an estimate. While that means it will be higher, at least you’ll know exactly what the final bill will be. If the contractor balks, see if there is any preliminary investigation that can help him or her overcome their concerns.
  • Ask how long they have been doing business in your particular area. Someone with links to the community is less of a risk than someone who is new to town.