By Bryce Johnson
Choosing a contractor to build a home or make improvements to your home is a big decision. It’s important to do your homework and make sure that company is qualified and the right fit for both the scope of your project and your personality.
Here are our top 10 suggestions in your contractor search:
1. Always check to see if the contractor you are considering, local or transient, is licensed in the state in which work will be performed. Contact the appropriate governmental agency: North Dakota Secretary of State’s office (nd.gov/sos/licensing) or the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (doli.state.mn.us) to verify the builder is currently licensed and to find out if he or she has a disciplinary history.
2. Get more than one estimate and be wary of any contractor that requires full payment up front, uses high-pressure sales tactics or asks you to sign authorization paperwork or a contract that you don’t understand. Consider paying with a credit card since these companies have better methods of remedying disputes and dealing with fraudulent charges.
3. Get a detailed contract, including a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated and specific timelines. Do not sign it until you are comfortable.
4. Ask the contractor how long and where he or she has been in business.
5. Ask the contractor about designations or certifications he or she has earned. These can include, for example, voluntary programs to further their professionalism or lead certification required by the EPA to perform work in structures built in 1978 or earlier.
6. Request bank references and a list of recent customers. Check those and take it a step further by going outside of that provided list and finding former customers. Ask if they were satisfied with work performed within the past few months.
7. Ask for a local business address, other than a post office box and a local phone number where the contractor can be reached during normal business hours. Some transient companies will open a post office box or can easily acquire a cell phone with a local number to give the appearance of being a local company when it is not.
8. Ask about warranty work and the company’s service policies.
9. Find out if the contractor has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
10. Lastly, make sure you can communicate with the contractor and feel comfortable with him or her. Misunderstandings during the course of the project can lead to additional costs and delays.
Bryce Johnson has been with the HBA of F-M for 25 years, serving as its executive officer over the past 19 years.
HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF FM
The HBA of FM promotes an environment in which members and their businesses can prosper.
Visit hbafm.com for additional information or pick up a Membership Directory and Consumer Guide to view local contractors.