Hints to Hiring the Right Contractor in Denver
Hiring a contractor to facilitate your project can be crucial to the success of your project. The following are a few tips and topics to be aware of to help you through the process and make it fun and exciting. There are many qualified and reputable contractors out there. These tips are designed to help you to weed out the best of the best and get a person/company that is going to best fit your particular style and job type.
Get at least 3 proposals for comparison. Proposals should be clearly and specifically lined out so that you know exactly what the contractor is responsible for and what you, as the homeowner, may be responsible for.
This is the most important question to ask. Make sure the prospective contractor is *properly insured as a general contractor. Ask to see proof of insurance. Additionally, all subcontractors, such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters, should carry liability insurance that covers them for the specific task they are performing. *Properly insured, in this case, means that the person/company is insured specifically as a general contractor. A general contractor is liable for overseeing all phases of the project, from drywall to electric and must carry insurance that will cover him to oversee all these phases.
*A contractor that only carries insurance to perform a specific skill, such as a cabinet installer, is not insured to oversee the entire project. He/she is only covered for the specific task of cabinet installation.
The subcontractors are also responsible to carry their own insurance for the specific jobs they are performing. The general contractor is responsible for verifying they are properly insured.
Every municipality has their own rules on licensing. Some require liability insurance, some require testing and some just proof of experience and others require nothing at all. The bottom line is that a contractor should have all three major categories, licensing, insurance and experience.
Insist on a permit. A permit ensures that there is a 3rd party inspector making sure that the contractor is doing the job correctly and is building your project according to the building codes. A project without a permit may cause insurance companies to deny claims if there is ever a problem in the future. If a contractor does not want to pull a permit, this should be a “red flag” and you should find out why. A reputable contractor will have no problem pulling a permit for your project.
Ask for references. References are your way of finding out how the contractor works with the client. An established contractor will have multiple references. They should be from actual customers they have done work for, not material suppliers or relatives. Call a few of them.
You can also call the local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no major complaints about the company.
Some questions to ask references:
- Did the contractor work with the client throughout the entire project, with things such as changes to the original plan.
- Did you feel comfortable bringing changes and concerns to the contractor? How well did he/she address your concerns?
- Was the project completed according to schedule?
- Did the contractor stay within the budget that was originally proposed?
- Were the contractor and his subcontractors conscientious and respectful of the homeowner’s property? i.e. Did they put up plastic up to protect furniture runners down to protect floors?
- How did the contractor leave the job?
- Was everything complete and clean?
The Big Decision…..Who do I hire?
After all the bids are in and you have gathered all your pertinent information, the next step is to actually choose a contractor. You may have proposals with significant differences in prices so you need to be sure you are comparing “apples to apples”. Ask about the *scope of work and what materials and methods the contractor plans to use.
*The scope of work is a specific outline of the work that will be done on the project. For example, in a kitchen remodel, does the price of the proposal include installing cabinets, appliances and hardware, or does it only include installing cabinets. Are they gong to hook up the sink or is that the job of the plumber? The scope of work should include all details, even the small ones.
Beware!! Cheaper is not always better!!!!
Make sure all the contractors are experienced. How long have they been in the business? What type of projects have they completed in the past? An inexperienced contractor may present a low proposal because he/she is not aware of what the project actually entails. Inexperience will probably end up costing you more money and time in the long run. If the contractor is inexperienced he may not foresee potential problems and may not be familiar with the latest methods of construction. Inevitably the situations will arise and the contractor may end up charging you for items over and above the original proposal. The last thing you want to have happen is to have to fire and re-hire a contractor in the middle of your project.
Note!! Cheaper may be better!!!
The lowest bid may be a great deal with a very reputable contractor. The point is that if the bid is signifianctly lower it should merely be a “red flag” for you to be sure you research the company thoroughly and be sure you and the contractor are clear as to exactly what he intends to do.
When you have done all your homework and finally chosen a contractor to hire, the last thing to require is that both you and the contractor have signed copies of the proposal. This way you have the contract to look back on to make sure the contractor performed the job exactly how it was agreed upon.