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Choosing Home Improvements, Remodeling & Repair Professionals

With your ready-made decision to hire a pro for your project be it for a remodel, to repair or for improving, there are factors that will affect the outcome with whichever contractor you decide on. Some areas to weigh are:

Working Relationships
During your meetings - which should be a fair exchange between the party contracting and the prospective contractor - gauge your impressions you have about the person/organization you would be dealing with. They should seem reputable and reliable. Is this a representative or salesperson of the company and if so, who will be onsite handling the project? Know before signing. And be wary of attempts that get you to sign right now. Higher involvement decisions require more time.

Does the person strike you as being knowledgeable and not just versed on the subject? Given the setting, your own set of circumstances, and nature of the work - were appropriate product samples available or even referenced?

The time that they have been in business also raises the question of financial stability and ability to stand behind a warranty.

How closely does their experience and track record relate to your own project?

Have they been diverse in the sense that they will be able to cope with a hidden unforeseeable, which may rear, and also fairly at that?

Look at your initial mode of contact. Whether they do or don't come by way of reference from associates, friends or from those already in a close business.

Become clear on the issues of cleanliness, professionalism and regard for the project overall, from inception to beyond completion. See if their history of projects come in, on-budget and on time. Do they come in within the timetable relied on for larger scale projects?

Does the company utilize subcontractors versus employees. The subcontractor arrangement can have disadvantages such as delays in completion, quality of work issues, and not as much influence over the finished-job while employee roles offer greater consistency as a whole. Yet this is no universal rule by any wild stretch.

* Obtain at total of at least three references in any case.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau for registered complaints and the current status of these, a rundown of company history and whether any outstanding issues have been resolved.

While the low bidder is favorable to many, and is frequently chosen, consider what you may be paying for in trade for the lesser price, if at all. Be clear on quality of materials and see if it is possibly being sacrificed.

Also, along with costs, you'll want to consider the payment arrangements. Specifically the percentage of retention or holdback - the amount withheld until completion, that is factored as an allocation to finish your project in the event the chosen professional does not complete satisfactorily (more on this under Types of Agreements).

Requirements vary from state to state. Check with your state department of regulation or licensing board/county building department to get a grasp on this.

Also don't take on good faith that the license won't expire during your said project so confirm expiration dates.

See exactly what the guarantee covers. Is the labor to redo the work specified as well as the materials and what is the duration - and who is responsible for this, is a manufacturer covering materials or the professional? Are there circumstances and exclusions/exceptions that might apply to the proposed guarantee and is this guarantee in writing or only by word-of-mouth? Obtain a copy in writing as many suppliers simply are in the habit of relaying "I don't know, I could probably get you that" ...who later do not, or..."I've never had anyone ask"...almost as if it shouldn't be questioned. Never settle for this.

Lastly, make sure any applicable code requirements are adhered to, and, which one of you will handle the needed permits, such as filing for and later sign-off with the inspector.

Refer also to Insurance and Bonding highlights.

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