When it comes to repairing or improving your home, a qualified professional contractor can get the job done properly, faster and with less hassle than trying to do it yourself. But many homeowners hesitate simply because they are not sure which contractor will do the best job, at the right and best price.
Knowing what qualities to look for in a contractor can help you judge which one is right for your home, your lifestyle and your project.
10 Tips on Choosing the Right Home Contractor for your Northern Virginia Home Renovation
- Find out how long the contractor has been in business. It’s best to look for an established company with a good reputation and clean track record. Make sure there are no unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
- Ask for a list of recently completed projects that are similar to the one you are planning. This is especially critical for complex work like roofing. Hiring a contractor that is experienced in projects similar to yours will help to ensure that all will go smoothly and that the job will be done correctly.
- What is your process? How will the project proceed, how do you communicate, who will be my point of contact during the project? If there is a problem or mistake….how do you handle it?
- Make sure that a contractor is properly licensed. All home improvement contractors are required to be licensed by the state before performing any work in Virginia. Ask to see the contractor’s license prior to hiring him/her for the job. Virginia has a Class A, Class B and Class C license for contractors. It is important that you know the limitations of a Class B & C. Why aren’t they a Class A?
- Insist on a detailed written proposal/agreement on to the penny pricing and payment terms. Many proposals/agreements are vague and do not specify enough detail leaving the homeowner at risk and at the mercy of the contractor. Have the agreement signed by all parties involved. And ensure that all parties involved have a copy of the agreement for future reference.
- Prior to the commencement of work, ask the contractor whether or not the job will require any type of permit. All permits must be obtained before the actual work begins or the homeowner may face a fine. It is best to discuss who will be responsible for obtaining and paying for any permits needed up front. Ensure that this is stated in the proposal/agreement.
- Make sure your contractor is certified by the manufacturers of the materials and products he/she will use on your home. Unless the contractor is factory-certified any manufacturer warranty is likely to be null and void, leaving you holding the bag for any product or material failure in the future. Many people believe that if they are putting a 25 year shingle on or a 50 year product that they are getting a 25 or 50 year warranty. This is not so, depending on the certifications of the contractor- you may receive what we call “an out of the box warranty” which is very limited and only covers one main aspect of the product and you (the customer) still have to pay for all others materials needed on top of paying again for labor.
- Every professional contractor should carry adequate insurance coverage, including personal liability, property damage and worker’s compensation. Request copies of all insurance certificates and confirm that they are current before allowing work to begin. Do not do business with a contractor who cannot provide this documentation as this may result in your being held liable for any injuries or damages that occur during the project.
- Ensure that the contractor can provide references (100s of them). Anyone can provide a few or even 10 but if they have been in business for several years they should have a long list of completed projects and satisfied customers. This will give you a sense of the contractor’s work ethic, reliability and end results.
- Ensure that the contractor will have a pre-construction meeting with you. It’s not like buying an appliance. A remodeling project is a “vision”. An experienced contractor will take the time at the start of the project to make sure homeowner and contractor are on the same page about the project and overall vision for the remodel effort.
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