Building or remodeling your new home is an expensive, time-consuming, stressful experience in its own right; especially if any equipment needs to be heavy haul transported — the last thing a homeowner needs is a distrustful contractor, to boot. If you want to make your home improvement run as smoothly as possible, here are some clues to identifying an honest contractor:
Readily Available. If your contractor never checks in, never calls or returns calls, or never updates you with a progress report every few days, then you’re probably dealing with a dishonest one. You don’t want to find yourself unpleasantly surprised at the end of the job!
Prices Don’t (Wildly) Fluctuate. When building/remodeling a home, sometimes last-minute, unexpected events occur, and price estimates might go up. (On that note, don’t trust contractors that ask for a cash deposit or full payment up front.) If the estimate and ultimate cost of the project are extremely dissimilar, then you’re more than likely dealing with a less-than-honest contractor. Oftentimes, contractors will purposely include sub-par materials in their quote list, then pester you for upgrades throughout the building process (or simply tell you that the actual work was more expensive or complex than originally “assumed”). Sometimes even basic work that goes along with a particular task will be billed as “extra,” so check and double-check your written contract — and make sure that additional changes are mutually initiated and agreed upon.
Has References, Licenses, An Address, and Insurance. A good contractor is licensed and insured — and has the copies to prove it. (You can check your contractor’s current licensing status with your secretary of state if you’re unsure about fraudulent licenses). Liability insurance protects your property in case the contractor causes any damage to it, and worker’s comp prevents you from having to pay for a contractor’s injury. (If the contracting team is really just one person, then he/she may be eligible for a “worker’s comp exemption” — but you should still ask for a copy of this.) Also, make certain that the contractor has an address (not just a P.O. box) and a landline phone number (reputable companies don’t run their operations out of a basement!) Ask for written references, and check an online registry to see if they’ve been well-received by others, too.
Will Do Guarantee Work. Good contractors should guarantee their work for at least a year. If they refuse, they might have purposely used cheap materials in their construction in order to boost their profit margin.
Agrees to Pull Required Permits. If your contractor agrees to pull permits, then you know that your property will be built to code. Contractors should not ask you to do it, because this usually means that they’re unlicensed, or that specific work is out of their license specifications.
Contracts Out Hazardous/Poisonous Materials Removal. If a contractor finds hazardous or poisonous materials while working on your home, he/she should contract out the handling of that material to a licensed hazardous materials contractor. A dishonest contractor will ask for a few extra hundred dollars to do it himself — but this could have dire consequences. You could be liable for any material (waste that leaks out into the river, for example) that goes unchecked, or is otherwise improperly handled.
There are plenty of reputable contractors and building companies out there, so do your homework — and remember that patience is key to finding a good construction partner.
About the Author: Mitch Harris is a freelance writer for Lennar. Lennar Corporation is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. Potential buyers can find a Chanhassen new home as well as Maple Grove new homes for sale.