“How to Choose a Contractor” – Get It In Writing!
(Redlands, CA) Contractor and former talk show host of Construction Zone Radio on KVCR Matt Le Vesque recently spoke to 20 people on How To Choose A Contractor at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore recently in Redlands.
Here is his presentation:
First, make sure the Home Inspector has a license. Why? Because if he does, he will also have a license bond. That means that if you end up in a dispute, you will have a chance to collect on the bond (up to $12,500) if the contractor flakes out. Also, generally, it means the contractor presumably knows enough to pass a licensing test.
Second, do some homework on the contractor. Go online to see if the license matches his story. “Contractors” have been known to use other people’s licenses or maybe “forget” to mention that they have a long list of consumer complaints.
I can’t begin to tell you all the horror stories I’ve heard or written reports about.
Third, check some references. Naturally, if you ask anyone for a reference they aren’t going to have you call their worst customer, right? So, go beyond calling the friends and relatives of the person you’re planning to let into your house.
Ask contractors what they’ve been working on the last several months and call those people. Recent past is much more predictive of the near future, right?
Fourth, get it in writing. A home improvement contract is a very detailed document that should be several to dozens of pages. There should be a complete description of the work and lots of details. If there are plans, they should be professionally prepared and approved by the local building department. And no licensed contractor should tell you that permits are not required. They should be able to prove they’re not required.
Fifth, don’t hear what you want to hear. This goes hand-in-hand with number four. Someone may appeal to your more frugal side (cheapness) by telling you that you can save money by not getting plans, permits or inspections. As far as I’m concerned, that’s akin to selling or receiving stolen property. If you want a “deal” like that, be prepared to pay the consequences. Chances are very good that you’re being conned.
That leads to number six, which is all about money. I wouldn’t go with the cheapest bid. There’s usually a reason they’re cheap and I also suggest being careful about keeping work in line with payments. I don’t recommend giving down payments and will only make a payment when a major milestone or inspection is complete. Basically, if it doesn’t seem right, ask more questions.
Number seven is the most important item: Communicate. Have an open and honest, business-oriented communication. You’re not pals or buddies. You’re not a shoulder to cry on and neither is the contractor. Keep it professional and you will generally get professional results. If you get to be friends after the job, that’s great too.
For more information call 909-478-1176 or visit www.HabitatSB.org. For more information on Matt Le Vesque call (951) 830-4918 or email Matt@BishopConstruction.Net
About Habitat for Humanity San Bernardino Area, Inc.
Habitat for Humanity San Bernardino Area is the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a faith-based nonprofit organization that works in partnership with families to strengthen communities and transform lives by building new homes, rehabilitating existing homes, and making affordable home ownership a reality for community members in need.
The San Bernardino Area affiliate serves the communities of Redlands, Loma Linda, Fontana, San Bernardino, Highland, Yucaipa, Colton, Bloomington, Rialto, Grand Terrace, Mentone, Running Springs, Lake Arrowhead, Apple Valley and Victorville.
To find out more about Habitat for Humanity, call 909-478-1176 or visit www.HabitatSB.org. We also ask you to LIKE us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/habitatsb.
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