How to Hire a Home Addition Contractor
Get referrals, know your project and check the license and insurance
By Stevie Donald
A home addition is possibly the most costly home improvement project you will undertake. You will not only be paying your home addition contractor a considerable sum of money, but he will be part of your daily life for months as you work as a team to complete the project. Hire a home addition contractor wisely by relying on trusted recommendations, doing your homework and being clear about your expectations.
- What You Need to Know
- You'll need detailed plans and expectations for your home addition and a realistic budget for the project
Decide whether you want to work with an architect first to draw up plans for a home addition or whether you want to hire a general contractor who works with an architect to provide one-stop service. Either way, you need to have a good general idea of your goal and expectations as you begin the process.
Get referrals for general contractors from people you know who have had home additions. Ask whether the job was performed in a timely manner and if the general contractor and his subcontractors were neat and respectful of your space. Most important, ask how he dealt with inevitable complications and work order changes. If you're working with an architect, she will probably have suggestions for contractors she has worked with.
Make as many decisions about the details of the home addition as possible before interviewing contractors. Seemingly small points such as whether you want solid core stain-grade doors or hollow-core paintable ones can add up to significant cost differences. The better the contractor understands your expectations, the more able he'll be to give you an accurate estimate.
Get three detailed, written estimates. Provide each contractor with your plans and a list of design details. Talk to them at length, and be open to their input on different approaches to parts of the job.
Don't base your decision on price alone. Add-ons and changes are par for the course on any large remodeling project, and a very low bidder may be willing to either cut corners to keep his costs low or is counting on making up the difference with add-ons. Ask your bidders to provide you with a breakdown of costs: labor, materials and subcontractor payments.
Ask about the general contractor's employees and subcontractors. Look for evidence that he has maintained good, long-term working relationships with those who work for him.
Check that all his licensing requirements are in good standing by visiting your state's contractors license board. Many states have license status available online. Make sure the general contractor and his subcontractors have liability and workers' compensation insurance and ask for proof. Call the Better Business Bureau to check for unresolved complaints.
Agree on a payment plan. The Federal Trade Commission notes, "Some state laws limit the amount of money a contractor can request as a down payment." Give no more than one-third of the total cost as a down payment. Keep progress payments commensurate with completed work, and withhold the final payment until all the work is completed to your satisfaction.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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