Having some work done around the house by a hired-on contractor may seem like a nothing-special routine activity. So ho-hum that many homeowners charge into hiring a contractor without giving pause to just who they’re using. Fewer still think to quiz their would-be contractor with relevant questions before they are signed on to do a job.
This can be a mistake, and in the worst cases lead to damaged property or even future criminal activity if information about the contents of your home are shared by someone shady who went inside it to fix some floors or redo some drywall.
In this day and age, getting the name of a contractor can be done with only a few clicks of a mouse. However, you shouldn’t be so quick to agree to have someone do the work without vetting them. So help keep your home secure and make sure you’re getting the best contractor for the job by following these helpful tips.
Know their History
Business history, that is. For contractors, the big point of concern here is checking that they are in fact certified to perform the work they say they can do. One thing that many people may not know is that in many provinces contractors are vetted by a trades college. (In Ontario it’s the Ontario College of Trades). Such organizations will have a publicly searchable registry on their website that will inform you if your potential contractor is registered, qualified for the work and whether they have faced any disciplinary actions or misconduct. (For more on the trades college search see this Toronto Star article.)
Ask about who they’ll be bringing on to help them
During your interview with your would-be contractor, make sure to ask them about who, if anyone, they’ll be bringing on to help them with the job. Many contractors will subcontract out specific tasks. Find out if this is the case, and if they’re fully certified and vetted by a trades college (see above). If they are bringing on other workers, you can also ask for records of the transactions between the contractor and any subcontractors. These documents can come in handy if there is a dispute about the work.
Get a Breakdown of how long the Work should take
Ask your contractor for his or her timeline for the project. This means the contractor will tell you what their fixed start date is, their completion date and whether this is inclusive of any job site clean-up time. Make sure you have these dates in writing on a formal written agreement for the work. It’s also smart to check in with your contractor during the duration of the job to see if things are moving ahead on schedule.
Get a Work Cost Breakdown
This is another one that many people don’t even think of asking about. Make sure your contractor provides to you an itemized price estimate for their work and any subcontractors. But don’t just tuck these away once you do have them – look them over. What you’ll want to pay particular attention for is anything that seems too expensive or, rather, too inexpensive. Cheap prices are perhaps the more commonly questionable item here, as they can indicate a possible slipshod done-on-the-cheap job. And once you have these estimates, don’t be afraid to shop around and get quotes and price breakdowns from other perspective contractors.
Work Hours and Routine
Ask the contractor about the nitty-gritty of what their workday will be like for your home project. You should know what time they’ll start working, whether they’ll work non-stop from the start of the project (or rather work one day on, one day off while fitting in other jobs) and what they’ll do with any job-site waste (where will the excess lumber go? hopefully not left in your yard). Again, like other things, it can be a very good idea to get this information in writing.
These are some good all-purpose tips, but for more advice check out these helpful websites. Following these tips can help you hire a good contractor who can help keep your home secure by adding home security monitoring systems and by several other options.
Mark Clair is a 46 year old interior designer, decorator and planner. He is a prolific writer and enjoys putting his thoughts into words on pretty much anything around that evokes an interest in him. Happily married and the father of a new born girl, Mark is now exploring the many little joys and challenges of parenthood. For more information, follow him on twitter.