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|How to Find a (Good) Contractor
|Steel City has won numerous awards and has thousands of satisfied customers. However, knowing all that doesn't help you if
you've stumbled across our website and you're outside our service area of Northwest Indiana. For all of those who need to find a
qualified professional Contractor outside of our service area, here are some tips for finding a good one:
1. Get a Contract. Too many people don't get anything in writing and then, when the Contractor disappears with their money and
nothing has been started, the homeowner is stuck. No matter who they are or what they tell you, get it in writing!
The Contract should include the Scope of the work, detailed to eliminate misunderstandings. Ask questions and have the important
answers and details put in writing. The Contract should include the materials being used including brand names, model numbers,
colors, sizes, etc. The Contract should include any drawings or layouts, a payment schedule, and start and finish dates. It should
be signed by the Contractor AND you, and you should get a copy of it for your records.
2. Quality Standards. Does the Contractor have a written set of Quality Standards? If not, beware. Quality issues can result in
heartaches and headaches for homeowners. Building codes don't cover a "quality of work" issue. A well-written Quality Standards
policy is your best bet in protecting yourself and it eliminates the difference of opinion aspect.
3. Contractor Employees. Are workers full-time employees? How long have they been there? Does the Contractor utilize a lot of
sub-contractors? With time often comes knowledge. Would you rather have a worker who has been with the Contractor for 6
months or 6 years? Ask what the turnaround time is. Also, Contractors can't control sub-contractors because they are their own
company. Find out if subs will be used on your job. Do you feel comfortable with sub-contractors?
4. Job Site Security and Safety Plan. Safety is important, not just for the workers but for your property as well. Make sure you put it
in writing that your prized azalea bushes are not to be stepped on or driven over. It is important to be reasonable when work is
being done, but precautions should be made to protect your investments too.
5. Change Orders. Change Orders should be used to correct unforeseen problems or if the homeowner wishes to add to the job.
Change Orders should be in writing and the homeowner should sign and receive a copy BEFORE the additional work is to be
done. Pre-construction meetings should be onsite with a Job Foreman and all homeowners to avoid misunderstandings and avoid
6. Payment Schedules. Before the job starts, get the Terms of the Contract in writing. Work out deposit amounts, when and how
much any progress payments will be, and how the final payment will be set up.
7. Clean Up and Dust Protection. A Contractor should provide dust protection to help keep dust at a minimum. Also, make sure that
the clean up of the debris is included in your Contract. Both of these items should be listed in writing on your Contract.
8. Job Site Usage and Utilities. How will your materials be stored on the job? What are the bathroom arrangements for the
workers? Will they be using your water or electricity for their tools? These are all questions you may want to ask the Contractor.
9. Warranties. What kind of warranty is included for the labor portion of your job? Make sure that you receive the warranty paperwork
for your installed items.
10. Choose a LICENSED and BONDED Contractor. Make sure the Contractor will obtain the permits and inspections that are
required. This should also be included in writing in the Contract.
11.Insurance. Make sure the Contractor has adequate General Liability insurance and Worker's Compensation insurance. If not,
YOU COULD BE LIABLE for any injuries on your property!
12. References. Check your local Better Business Bureau, local Building Departments, the Building Association, and make sure
the Contractor is Licensed in your town or city. Ask your Contractor for references from previous customers. Check the internet to
see if there are any negative reports about them. You'd be surprised what you can find out by just typing in the name of the
Contractor in Google Search. Also, the website Angie's List can be a great source for checking out local businesses, since they do
not allow businesses to advertise if they do not have an excellent rating. (Just a note that you do have to subscribe to Angie's List in
order to find Contractors. Check the website for subscription rates.)
13. How long in Business? 50% of Contractors don't make it to their first year. 90% don't make it to five years! Ask how long a
company has been in business. Beware of new companies. Don't just get the names of customer references... make sure you
contact them too. Know how and where to contact the Contractor. Does he have a physical place of business or does he just
operate from a cell phone?
14. Lastly, Be Prepared. Remodeling isn't just a financial investment;it can wear on you emotionally. You will lose your privacy
during construction. There is noise and dust, and it can drive you crazy! Stay focused and remember the inconvenience will be
worth it, especially if you've done your homework.
Copyright © 2005-2014 Lisa Carpenter for Steel City Home Improvement Company, Inc.
Images used with permission.