Licensed Contractors: Choose with Care

It is important to carefully choose a licensed contractor,


before you sign the contract. The first step in this process is to research contractors in your area using the internet and yellow pages. Pre-screen your candidates by their specialties. For instance, if you are planning a kitchen remodel, then look for kitchen remodel listed in their advertising.

Then contact the potential candidates by phone. What is your first impression of the contractor and their staff? Does a real person answer the phone? How long does it take the contractor to return your phone call? If a contractor doesn’t return your call for a couple days during the interview process, you may have trouble getting hold of him during the building process.

It is important to interview several licensed contractors. Ask questions and establish a rapport. Decide if this is a person you can communicate with. Make sure that the candidate you are considering has years of experience with your type of project, either as an employee or as a contractor. Does he answer you questions directly? Does he appear organized?

Don’t be pressured into signing a construction contract, give yourself the time to validate and investigate all of the information provided by the candidates:

Evidence of that the contractor is licensed; city, county and/or state.

Evidence of insurance; workers compensation, contractors bond, general liability, property damage and vehicle insurance.

Ask for a list of recent projects and at least three references of projects similar in size and scope to your own.

Ask for a list of employees and subcontractors scheduled to work on your project. You should also get copies of subcontractors licenses and insurance certificates.

Finally, make sure that your potential contractor to agrees to your participation in the process as part of the construction contract.

Make sure that every thing you and the contractor agree upon verbally is also in writing, with a signatures and dates. Do not sign any contract until you have reviewed it thoroughly.

And, last but not least, do not give your chosen contractor a large deposit up front. A 10% deposit due at the signing of the construction contract should be sufficient, with progress payments due upon completion of specified phases of the project.