I recently wrote an article on how to find a great contractor to repair your house. Once you find a contractor who you want to work with, you have to make sure they do their job well. There are many things you can do to make sure your contractor is doing their job correctly and in a timely manner. No matter how good the references are or the how great the contractor tells you they are, you have to follow these steps to make sure the contractor follows through.
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Why do you need to check up on your contractor?
There are many great contractors and there are bad contractors. The problem that many people run into with contractors is it may be hard to tell the difference between a good and a bad contractor until they start the job. Contractors can get too busy, take too big of a job or not keep track of their workers well. Any of these circumstances can cause a job to take too long or not be done correctly. Constant communication, written agreements and checking on a job often are all keys to making sure your contractor does what he promised to do.
Always walk through a job site with your contractor
If you have worked with a contractor on multiple jobs and you know he knows what you want, you may skip walking a job site with your contractor. I think it is always a good idea to walk a job with your contractor so they know what needs done, even if you have worked with the contractor before. Make sure the contractor is writing things down when you are discussing what needs done. I have had a few contractors write nothing down when I discussed exactly what I wanted done, and when I came back to the work site, they were doing things I had not asked to be done and had not done things I had asked to be done. It is a bad sign if the contractor doesn’t write anything down and is trying to remember all the work that needs done.
Always get a written bid for any job from the contractor
You need to have a written bid when you have any work done on a house. A written bid serves multiple purposes that will save you time and money.
- A written bid makes sure both the contractor and the homeowner know exactly what services and repairs are being done. You don’t want any confusion on what was and what was not supposed to be repaired on a home.
- A written bid lists the price that the contractor is charging for specific work done. You don’t want to be surprised with a massive bill after the work is completed that you never agreed to. A written bid helps keep the contractor honest.
- A written bid may also include a time frame for when the work will be done. Some investors will add incentives to contractors for getting a job done quickly. The faster they finish, the more the contractor gets paid.
A written bid is a contract between the contractor and the homeowner
Most contractors require bids be signed by both parties. The written bid not only keeps both parties honest, the bid reminds every one of the scope of work to be done. I have many jobs going at one time and I tend to forget what was verbally talked about. By having a written bid there is no confusion on what was repaired and what it costs.
Keep in constant contact with your contractor
If you never hear from your contractor, that doesn’t mean things are going great. I had a job I thought was going well, because I never heard a thing from a contractor. I assumed he would have told me if there were any problems or delays. It turns out he had never started the job! Call your contractor to get updates on the job and stop by the job site to see how things are progressing.
Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor if they are on schedule and budget. Ask your contractor if there are any changes to the bid or if there is any more work that needs done. If there are any changes to the work, make sure the contractor contacts you to approve the changes. Some contractors take it upon themselves to change a job or add on work without asking the homeowner.
If the contractor is working on a house where you do not live, you have to check up on them. Some of my biggest failures with contractors happened because I was not visiting job sites. I think you have to visit the job site at least once a week to make sure work is being done. Do not tell the contractor you are coming either! I have a contractor who had 6 guys working on a job whenever he knew I was coming. When I showed up to that job unannounced there was no one there.
Don’t pay a contractor for work they have not done
Some contractors want partial payment before any work is started on a job. If you have worked with a contractor before and this is their policy, it may work to pay them some money to get started. You never want to pay than 25 percent of the job upfront. Before you pay anything to a contractor you need to vet them by checking reviews and references if possible. One way to get around paying a contractor upfront if they insist, is offering to buy the materials. We pay for all the materials on our jobs using mostly Home Depot.
A contractor can place a lien on a home if they are not paid by the homeowner for work they did. A homeowner has a much harder time tracking down a contractor who takes their money before any work is done and skipping town. The contractor has a much easier time collecting for unpaid work and should have no problem getting paid after a job is done.
Do a final walk through with the contractor to make sure the work was done right
A contractor should take pride in his work and be happy to show you what was repaired. I always do a final walk through to make sure the work was done right and everything was done correctly. Many times I must have the contractor go back and fix minor things or fix things we didn’t notice the first time looking at the home. Don’t be afraid to point out work that you do not think is done correctly. If the contractor is hesitant about fixing it correctly, stand your ground. If the contractor refuses to make repairs or do things correctly you know not to use them again.
When hiring a contractor it is very important to do your due diligence to find a great contractor. Once you hire a contractor you need to make sure they follow through with what they promised. If you keep in constant contact, get everything in writing and be clear on the scope of work, you will have much more success.