CONTRACTORS

People always tend to complain about contractors who do not complete work on time- or even worse- just take most of the money. One of the main problems is that they don't check to make sure they are using a LICENSED contractor- many opt for the cheapest bid they can find and then wonder why they got screwed. The Contractors State License Board had these recommendations

THE DO'S AND DON'T OF HIRING A CONTRACTOR

Do

1. Plan the project carefully

2. Shop around before hiring a contractor

3. Get at least three written bids on the project

4. Provide contractors accurate plans so that they can definitively determine the scope and cost of the work. Otherwise you will face innumerable changes and cost overruns.

5. Make sure your contractor is properly licensed by calling the State License Board. If you cannot do at least this, plan on lots of problems and lawsuits.

6. Check out contractors with your local building department, trade associations or unions, consumer protections agencies and the Better Business Bureau

7. Look at work the contractor has completed

8. AS contractor to furnish a completion or contract bond. If refused or "not available", look elsewhere for another contractor.

9. Consult with more than one lending institution regarding the type of loan to obtain.

10. Ask lender to recommend a funding control company

11. Make sure your contract provides for a retention of funds until the work is fully completed

12. Make sure everything you and the contractor have agreed to is included in the contract

13. Ask the contractor about inconveniences that may occur, and plan accordingly

14. Keep a job File

15.Make sure you receive lien releases from subcontractor and material supplies. Otherwise, you may be liable for such costs.

16. Make frequent inspections as the work progresses and a final walk through.

17. Identify any inconsistencies IN WRITING to the contractor

18. Consult an attorney is a mechanic's lien is filed.

19. If there are problems or disagreements, try to negotiate with the contractor before hiring an attorney. But, again, make sure than everything is documented in writing. Send communications CERTIFIED.

DO NOT

1. Hire an unlicenced contractor.

2. Hire anyone without first shopping around for both price AND expertise

3. Act as an owner/builder unless you are very experienced in construction

4. Sign anything until you completely understand it and agree to the terms. If unclear, take additional time and contact an expert first. Do not be pressed into signing.

5. Make agreements with subcontractors or workers without first consulting with the main contractor.

6. Ever pay cash without getting a proper receipt

7. Make a down payment without checking with your lender or the State License Board to make sure it does not exceed the legal limit.

8. Let your payments get ahead of the contractor's work. That's why ongoing walkthroughs are necessary.

9. Hesitate to ask questions for the contractor

10. Make a final payment until you are satisfied with the work.

CONTRACTOR CHECKLIST: 1998 (Money Magazine)

1. Drop in on your contractor's crew in the middle of a renovation

2. Request a copy of your contractors workers compensation or liability insurance policies.

3. Find out if the contractor's business is financially sound.

4. Determine who will actually perform your work.

5. Get everything in writing, including bids.

6. Arrange a payment schedule.

7. Nail down an arbitration process for disagreements.

8. Request a warranty

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