Building or retrofitting a home or business can be a lucrative way to add value to your asset base. Cutting corners and costs by hiring the wrong contractor or attempting jobs that are beyond your scope of knowledge can turn a dream home into a nightmare. There are a few tips you can follow to ensure that you get a competent, qualified contractor that is suited for the job.
Word of mouth: Rely on recommendations from trusted friends and colleagues who have had similar work successfully completed by competent contractors.
Local Licencing Agency: Request a copy of your potential contractor’s license number and check with your local licencing agency to ensure that the license is valid and current. Most contractors must complete refresher courses in various techniques to remain up-to-date with ever-changing standards and building codes. Remember; you will be responsible for construction that is not up to code.
The licensing agency can also tell you how long your contractor has been in business and if any complaints have been registered against the contractor with the agency.
Insurance: Make sure that your contractor carries valid public liability and property damage insurance as well as worker’s compensation. Any sub-contractors must also be covered under the contractor’s policy or you will be liable for injuries on site.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints lodged against your potential contractor. Find the Canadian Better Business Bureau here and the American Bureau here. You can also search user reviews on Angie’s List here.
Ask your contractor for references: This will help you to ensure that your contractor has successfully completed the kind of work you want him to do.
Government incentives: Many retrofit and green building options are subsidized by the government. Ensure that your contractor is aware of which rebates you qualify for. Building in accordance with tax rebates can save you money and improve your return on investment.
Construction plan: On new builds and retrofits, there are usually a number of different workers and specialized equipment that is needed to complete the job. Ensure that your contractor has a construction plan that takes into account all of the licensing that needs to occur prior to the start of the project, the inspections that need to happen during construction and the equipment that needs to be present in order for jobs to be completed. A lack of coordination will lead to massive delays and increase construction costs.
Get at least three quotes: Taking the time to find the right contractor now might save you more time and money in the future. If contractors have problems giving you an accurate quote or providing you with licensing information, it’s probably best to go with someone else. Remember; the lowest quote isn’t necessarily the best option.
The contractor you hire is pivotal to the success or failure of your construction project. Investing the time and effort into choosing the best contractor is worth it.