Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Find a Contractor

There are certainly times when you won't be able to get the job done on your own, but where do you start when it comes to hiring a contractor?

The majority of the complaints received by consumer protection agencies are from homeowners upset with the work done by contractors. Don't let yourself fall into this category also. Here are some tips to find the right person for your job.

ASK! Ask neighbours, friends, co-workers, family, and anyone you trust if they know someone. I received a recommendation for a good general contractor from the local hardware store- you never know!

Searching through the yellow pages? Keep in mind that ad space can be pricey, so a company with a larger ad may be more reputable. You can also check kijiji or Craig's List, but keep in mind that these are FREE and anyone could post an ad.

Get several quotes and ask around at building supply stores to verify they are reasonable.

Be wary of 'under-the-table' deals. If something goes wrong, there is very little or no recourse for you to seek correction.

Some questions to ask (these may vary depending on the size of the project):

  • Is the contractor full-time or part-time. This could affect skill ability and length of completion time.
  • Licenses or certifications? Requirements differ by province. Check out this Government of Ontario website for a list of trades requiring certification.
  • Ask for an appointment that suits your schedule and expected length of completion time.
  • Who will actually do the work? Some contractors hire subcontractors, so you'll want to know who will actually be in your house.
  • Is their work warranted and is the guarantee in writing?
  • For large jobs, ask about cleanup procedures, written contracts, insurance, and to get references from past clients

More times than not, you get what you pay for with contractors. Good ones will be in high demand and can therefore afford to charge more. Don't take the cheapest estimate just to save some money. It may end up costing you more in the long run.

Finally, never be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something or want more clarification. Spend time with the contractor when he arrives so he can explain what he's doing and why. As a bonus, he may provide you with further preventative advice or corrective suggestions for other related 'issues'.

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