3. Get at least three written bids for the project, but don't give in to the temptation to automatically accept the lowest bid. A higher bid may be worth the price in better materials, workmanship and reliability. If you get a very low bid, the contractor may have made a mistake or forgotten to bid on everything you wanted. If they have deliberately low-bid, they may use cheaper materials or take shortcuts to make a profit.
4. Many states and provinces require registration and/or licensing. For the USA, www.nationalcontractors.com provides a starting point for your state and type of construction. Click on Verify Contractors License. If licences are required in your jurisdiction, be certain to ask to see your contractor's licences and be sure that it's not expired.
5. Ask for references and then check them out. Look at the projects and ask the previous clients if they are satisfied with the quality of work done, if it was started and completed on schedule and if it is complete.
6. Get a signed, written contract and be sure you understand
it. The Construction Contractors Board of Oregon claims that the single biggest
cause of homeowner-contractor disputes is the written contract: not having one,
having a poor one, or having one everyone ignores. A good contract should include:
7. Make any changes to the project in writing with a "work order change" to avoid misunderstandings and surprises.
8. Keep pets and children away from the construction site. This will ensure not only their safety, but also that of the workers. In addition, it helps keep the project on schedule.
9. Inspect the work regularly.
10. Pay directly and promptly according to the contract.
Above all, you should feel comfortable communicating with your contractor. If you sense he is being evasive when you are getting a quote, it won't get any better during the construction period. Find someone you understand and who understands you, and who is open and forthright.
Working with a contractor takes a little preparation, but following these steps is well worth it.
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