When trusting your Contractors’ word is not good enough.

As an Interior Decorator and Architectural Color Consultant, I am often involved in helping my clients choose fixed elements such as tiles, flooring, brick, stone, new light fixtures etc.  I do not sub-contract, but I do collaborate with the Contractor regarding the project.

Having someone invade your private space can be tolerable when you know or expect the outcome to be good.  Which, as we all know, is not always the case.

The purpose of this post is to educate and protect YOU, the consumer! Before you hire a Contractor, this is what you need to do!

1) Research the Company or the Contractor

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Read reviews online. Yelp, Google and Facebook are great resources! Talk to the people in your community. Everyone likes to brag about how good they are, so ask for photos and proof.
  • Check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.

http://www.bbb.org/council/consumer-education/

If you can’t find anyone that can confirm that this person is as good as he says he is. MOVE ON! Hire someone else! Do not hire them because you feel it’s a good networking decision or because you like him.

2) Arrange an interview.

  • One serious word of advice: RECORD every single word during the discussion of the project, especially when making verbal agreements, which I would not recommend anyway.
  • If recording is not an option, write it down! Everything! And have it signed/ initialed before the actual contract is signed.

3) Ask questions such as:

  • Will there be a team or are you working alone? During both my encounters, I was promised a team and a two week project turned into a 10 week disruption of our lives.
  • Estimated time it will take to finish project? Be reasonable and give them an extra week for unforeseen circumstances. Discuss what the consequences will be if project is not completed in a reasonable time.
  • How many other jobs are they working on at the moment? Big issue!! The "teams" are always busy at another house.
  • What if they damage your property? Or worse, even the neighbor’s property? Make sure it’s in the contract! Ask for proof of insurance.
  • Respecting privacy and safety of people as well as animals. The first contractor we hired, left the yard wide open on two occasions and we almost lost our dogs.
  • Leaving the construction zone safe and clean every day after work and after the completion of the project.
  • Make 100% sure that whatever got deconstructed in order for the job to get done, will be repaired afterwards.

4) Set a payment schedule

  • I quote this from "This old house"

Payment schedules can also speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic. If they want half the bid up front, they may have financial problems or be worried that you won’t pay the rest after you’ve seen the work. For large projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.

5) Contract

  • There’s a lot of advice out there when it comes to contracts, with all the necessary legal jargon, but from a practical home owner’s point of view, make sure all the above mentioned questions and concerns are addressed in the contract and that you understand every single line item. Absolutely insist on a clear contract to avoid any issues during or after the project.

I would highly suggest paying a little extra and just hire someone that belongs to an Organization such as NARI Here is the link to the organization here in Austin, Texas http://austinnari.org/

Have you had a bad experience with a contractor before? Please share so we can all learn from this!

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