Group offers tips for selecting a contractor

Real Estate Watch

December 21, 1997

Homeowners can avoid problems when hiring a home-improvement contractor by making sure the contractor is licensed, insured and has references, according to a list of tips issued by Title One Home Improvement Lenders Association.

When calling a contractor's former customers, ask what type of work was done, whether it was completed on time and on budget, and whether they would use that contractor again.

The group also suggests contacting the Better Business Bureau to learn of any complaints against a contractor.

The association says you should solicit proposals from several contractors before selecting one. They caution homeowners to be wary of the lowest bidder, especially if a bid is more than 20 percent below the others.

Make sure the contractor you choose is well-established in your area and has a strong relationship with his suppliers.

If the contractor doesn't have worker's compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance, the customer would be liable for injuries on the job, the association warns.

Get everything in writing and don't sign anything until all the terms are agreed upon. And make sure everything you pay for was listed in the contract.

Contract proposals need to specify the type and, where possible, brand name of materials to be used.

Finally, the group advocates keeping a file on the home-improvement job, including contracts, change orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, and canceled checks.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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