Precautions To Take When Picking a Contractor

what to look for when choosing a contractor

Remember a few months ago when I revealed that my husband and I have a few real estate investment properties? Who am I kidding, I'd probably forgot my head most days if it wasn't attached. Remembering a post from a few months ago (I won't hold you to it), you can read more about that {here}.

Thankfully we've had some really great people we've worked with, but not all have been a walk in the park. We've learned from our mistakes like most people in the industry. When you really sit down and think about it, it's so scary to know that one person can really cause havoc or ruin your house!

After talking with a few of our flipper and landlord friends, a lot of them will tell you the biggest hurdle is finding help that you can trust.

A few weeks ago we came home to a leak from our kitchen ceiling that was the result of a part installed wrong by a plumber we used. Now let me start by saying we've used him before on previous projects. The sad part is you need to treat each project like a new one. People change, their comfort levels change, and not every job completed is better than the last.

Thankfully my husband was able to fix the problem but it was a situation that should have never happened in the first place.

So today, I'm sharing some precautions to take when picking a contractor. This is even a good refresher for us for the next project, because like I mentioned before, sometimes people get too comfortable.

Unfortunately no matter how many precautions you take you can never be guaranteed anything. Hopefully some of these suggestions can help you the next time you need a contractor.

1. RECOMMENDATIONS: Picking a contractor is an extremely hard decision. One of the resources we always go to first is recommendations from our friends or family who have experience with that person. Even though you might get a recommendation it's still important to take additional precautions like the ones I mention below.

2. LICENSED AND INSURED: This is extremely important. Always ask for a copy of their license so you can keep it for your records. Unfortunately there are some people in this world that are looking for an opportunity. Your job site could be the perfect little place for them to point the blame. 

3. REFERENCES: Once you meet with the contractor always ask for references. A great contractor is going to have happy customers that will vouch for their work.

4. QUALITY OF WORK: It's ok to ask for pictures of their completed work, or even better, ask about their most recent project and if you can stop by the site. Of course if this in a home you would need to get permission, but that's a sure tell way to find out their quality of work.

*If you're living through a renovation it's also important to find out about clean up at the end of each day. We've had some great contractors that sweep and vacuum, and make sure nothing is left out. Then on the other hand, we had someone install hardwood floors for us and came home to the house covered in saw dust! Literally. They didn't even bother to clean off the beautiful floors they just laid. #youliveandyoulearn

5. GOOGLE THEM: Do a little research. Google is great for, umm just about anything. This goes for people, too. If you're letting someone come into your home it's a good idea to make sure you're comfortable with them.

6. SET A CONTRACT:  It's so important to decide, and agree on, the work that will be done. The best way to avoid any mishaps is to have a contract in place. This also holds them accountable for completing the work that was agreed upon and eliminates anything being missed. Assume nothing. Always cross reference the contract as well. We have friends that had someone install their air conditioning system and when they checked the model number that was installed against the model that was in their contract, it was the wrong one! The guy installed a cheaper and less powerful unit yet still charged them the same price.

7. SCHEDULING AND PAYMENT: Make sure you discuss scheduling time lines and payment options with your potential contractor. Are they asking for half up front and the other half in the middle, will they allow final payment at the end, all up front, etc. Come to an agreement that you both feel comfortable with and make sure to put it in the contract. Make sure to get a time frame for the completion of the project. In our experience it's always better to factor in an extra week of work. You never know what you're going to run into.

How has your experience been working with a contractor? Are there any other suggestions you would add? 

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