Palmer Harned of Long & Foster Features Our Guide To Choosing A Home Improvement contractor in her popular blog on buying, selling, and preparing a home for market:
Today’s guest post is courtesy of Andrew Blate, owner of Beautiful Home Services, LLC. The BHS team has been providing high-quality painting, drywall, carpentry, bathroom and basement remodeling services to the DMV area for over a decade. Below, Andrew will discuss the often overwhelming task of selecting a qualified contractor.
For many home owners, finding a qualified contractor is a task so daunting that is prevents them from pursuing home improvement projects. While this process of interviewing contractors can be difficult, following a few simple tips can help you weed out the bad apples!
- Verify the contractor’s license. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to do so. VA/DC/MD all require contractors to be licensed for just about any home improvement project, and Virginia contractors are required to have industry specific licenses. Licenses can be checked by visiting:
- Maryland: http://www.dllr.state.md.us/license/mhic/
- Virginia: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/
- Washington DC: http://dcra.dc.gov/service/verify-business-license
- Ask to see a copy of their insurance. They should carry at least $2 million in liability insurance and $500,000 in worker’s compensation. Verify that the name on the policy matches their company name.
- Decide what kind of contractor you need: Handyman, specialist contract, design build, or general. You might want to interview a few from each category to find what is right for you.
- Ask for references that match the specific type of work. Ask for a few older ones and newer ones. Call the references. Ask if problems occurred and how were they addressed by the contractor. If they don’t have older references, that is a red flag.
- Obtain at least 3 estimates. There can often be a wide range in pricing and service offered, especially for complex jobs. Estimates should be in writing and clear. Also, make sure the terms of the contract are fair and abide by the laws of your state.
- Ask who is doing the work: Sub contractors, employees, etc. Ask if there will be a foreman on the job site and if there is any oversight by company management, and if so how often. Make sure you have a direct contact number for someone in management in case there is a problem.
- Google search the company. Check reviews on Yelp.com, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, etc. If there is no record of the company and they don’t have a website, that’s probably telling you something. You can also check out a company with your local consumer protection agencies and the BBB.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you don’t get the ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ then keep searching!
- The contractor should treat the estimate like a job interview. They should be on time, clean, and respectful of you and your home. If they aren’t professional at the time of the estimate, how do you think they will handle the work? If you have to wait more than 4 or 5 days to receive the estimate (except on very large projects), then you may want to keep searching.
- Clarify the scope of work on the estimate. The materials included and/or not included, etc. should be clear. Give extra consideration to companies who are detailed.
- Never pay more than 30% down when executing the contract (30% is the max deposit allowed in MD and other areas). There should also be a firm start date and finish date written into the contract, as well as payment terms. Never, ever pay in full until the job is 100% completed.
- See if they offer a warranty. Does the warranty only cover materials or workmanship as well? Industry standard is 2-3 years.
Follow these simple rules and you’ll increase your chances for a successful home improvement contractor hire!
To find out more about Beautiful Home Services, call (888) 724-6810 or visit their website at www.beautifulhomeservices.com.