GET IT BID & GET IT BUILT: Finding a Contractor Who's Right For You
tips to get you on the right path toward finding a contractor
Whether you’re looking to build a new home or remodel your existing home, it’s important you select the right contractor for the job and for you. Finding someone you can trust, who you communicate well with and who understands your vision is important. Research and preparation are key to finding the best contractor to get the job done. Follow these tips to help you get started.
Recommendations & Research
- Ask friends or family for referrals of profes- sionals who have successfully completed home improvement projects. Secure at least three names to give yourself options.
- Contact the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA) or visit www.cvhomebuilders.com for a list of contractors. All members of the CVHBA must carry business insurance and have provided business references.
- Visit esla.wi.gov/verifylicense and look up the contractor to ensure they have an active Dwell-
ing Contractor and Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license with the State of Wisconsin. The Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association can help with determining license status as well.
- Online reviews can be helpful in determining the quality of work completed by contractors. Google and Yelp aggregate anonymous reviews of contractors. The Better Business Bureau will have information on business complaints and licensing. Facebook may also be a good place to see comments or complaints. There are numerous advice groups available to check on Facebook.
- Thoroughly interview each contractor. Have they completed a project similar in size and scope? How will they communicate with you through the process? Will they secure the necessary permits to complete the job? When conducting the interview, be sure they provide you with several references you can contact. Be sure to follow up and talk to their references.
- Do you communicate well with each other? Does the contractor understand you? As you meet with the contractor, make sure that you feel that you are communicating well, and they understand your vision for the project. If there are any concerns, you may want to select a different contractor.
- Most contractors won’t give you a full bid unless they are sure they are one of your top picks. It’s a lot of work to put together a full bid package and some may even charge for their time if you don’t select them. Go through the recommendations and research points and narrow it down to your top two contractors.
- Ask for a full bid from your top two contractors. They should be able to give you a price, but note that with changing prices some of the products may increase in price before the completion of the project. If this is possible, ensure that their bid identifies the items that could increase in price and what the increase is based upon.
Communication & Contracts
- Only contracts need to be signed, not estimates. Do not sign a bid or an estimate, it may be a binding contract.
- Make sure the contractor has an official contract that clearly outlines the type of job, pro- cess, and costs. Do not work with a contractor that accepts only verbal agreements about the job you need completed.
- Communication with a qualified professional once the contract is signed should not end there. Connect with your contractor regularly, especially if it is a big project. It’s easier to troubleshoot issues with your project if you identify and discuss them immediately.
- Be sure to understand their timeline and have in the contract when they will be starting the job.
Pricing & Payments
- Remember that choosing the cheapest contractor is not always the best option for you and your project. There are many variables, and you want to select the best contractor for the job, cheaper is not always better.
- Many professional contractors will ask for a deposit towards materials. This type of deposit should be paid once a contract is signed by both you and the contractor. Illegitimate contractors will ask for cash or full payment before starting the job. NEVER pay in full for a job up front! The full payment should only happen after the job is completed.
- Know exactly what you are paying for. Ask con- tractors you are interviewing to provide a complete breakdown of costs. Look for materials, labor, profit margins, and other expenses.
- Only make the final payment once you are satisfied with the work and have copies the lien releases from the contractor and subcontractor. This means that all of the subcontractors have also been paid for their work and will not be putting a lien on your home.
To learn more about finding a qualified con- tractor for your home, contact the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association at (715) 835-2526 or visit cvhomebuilders.com.