11 Ways to Protect Yourself From Getting Hammered by a General Contractor
The smell of sawdust wafting through the air, the sounds of hammers and saws, stacks of building supplies, and workers in , it looks like someone is having some construction work done! And while all of the pieces and players are in place and all appears to be in order, looks can be deceiving. In fact, if you have hired a contractor that you know very little about then until the project is completed and proven acceptable, there is likely a certain amount of trepidation…unless, you have done your homework.
Before having any home or office remodel done, it is an absolute must that you take the time to protect yourself and your investments by doing all you can to make sure that your contractor is everything they should be. Sad to say, just because you have spent the time getting an assortment of bids, contacting the Better Business Bureau, checking with state and local consumer protection agencies, the local authorities in regard to any licensing or banding requirements and a host of other background related details, you still need to go a few steps farther to protect yourself from getting hammered at the end of the job.
Write It Down!
Once you have found the contractor for your job, you need more than a gentleman’s agreement. You are making a choice to spend a great deal of money and you need to make sure you understand what the cost will cover. Consequently, you need to get all agreements and promises in writing, before anything else is done. In addition, there is no crime in asking for clarification of any part of the contract you don’t understand. If you don’t understand something or are not in agreement, don’t sign the contract! A general construction contract should include:
The contractor’s name, address, phone number and fax number
A detailed description of all the work to be done
A description of materials-this includes brand names, size, weight, color, etc…
Beginning and finishing dates
Payment schedule. You want to pay as little up front as possible and make payments throughout the course of the project, with the right to withhold payment if at any time the work does not meet your satisfaction. Don’t agree to financing arrangements you cannot afford.
Any guarantees that the contractor is making or warranties regarding the workmanship
A statement allowing you to cancel the contract based on the laws of your state.
A statement allowing you to cancel the contract after work has begun if you find unexpected or hidden problems once the job has been started.
The contractor’s responsibility to secure permits; if you have to get the permit, do not sign!
The bonding and licensing numbers of the contractor
The contractor is responsible for paying any subcontractors, supply costs, equipment rentals, etc. before you make the final payment. If this is not done, you become liable for the charges!
Don’t be pressured into signing a contract that you have not read through or don’t understand!