It’s summer time. Say hello to warm weather and the perfect time to start that garden or landscaping DIY you have been meaning to do. For those home owners who are not confident enough to attack the project themselves; do your research. There are many contractors who claim to be able to do the job but many of us have heard horror stories of contractors who have done terrible jobs or even worse, those who have taken your money and did not complete the job, so consider these points before hiring a qualified contractor.
1. Ask for recommendations and references from friends and family
Start with friends and family that would have similar work done. This will also give you a chance to find out firsthand from an actual client how well a particular contractor performed and the work that they’ve completed. If a contractor you are considering has a good track record of happy clients, he will have no shortage of past customers who will be willing to give favorable testimonials.
2. Research your contractor(s)
It’s nice to rely on friends to give you leads, but you should also do your own research. You can check out many rating and review sites out on the web to see if you can find them and see what others have been saying about them. Also check to see if they have a website that gives you more information that rating and review sites. Information such as their areas of knowledge, process, before/after photographs, and customer testimonies. By having a web presence it may mean that they are legitimate business (eg. business license, insurance, WSIB, etc.) and you as a consumer may have recourse if things don’t go right.
3. Get bids and different quotes
Get at least 3 estimates or quotes in writing. A detailed quote listing labour costs, materials costs and time will help you understand what you’re paying for and help you compare the various bids. Everyone likes a good deal but if a quote comes in much lower than the others, that contractor most likely will be cutting corners somewhere or may incur additional charges midway through the project.
4. Check credentials and qualifications
Once you have decided on several candidates, the next step is to inquire about their license, as well as the insurance (liability and worker’s compensation) they carry. This is a very important step. By making sure everything is in order, you will greatly reduce the risk of any liability on your part if things go wrong with the construction project.
5. Be involved with the process
Think beyond the price and choose a contractor that you can trust to work closely with you
towards the realization of the project’s goals. Make sure you ask questions, understand the
scope of the project and what the contractor is doing. Stay on top of the project. When
something isn’t right, bring it up immediately.
Stay away from contractors who are uncommunicative or unaccommodating. This could be a lengthy process, so it would be in your best interest to hire one that you get a long with.
6. Get it in writing & payment
Every project should have a contract, no matter the size of the estimated work. Every detail about the project should be included in the contract- labour costs, description of the work, materials and work timetable. Protect yourself should a dispute arise.
Reputable contractors also do not demand for all the payment up front. If a contractor insists that you pay a large deposit or the total bill before the work even starts, this may not be a good contractor. Make periodic payments as the contract completes certain portions of the projects and reserve a significant amount to be paid only when the job is completed to your satisfaction.