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Secrets Your Contractor Doesn’t Want You to Know

After asking friends for recommendations, you’ve vetted references and done an online background check to see if they are qualified. Finally, you know that you have found a pro who is an excellent fit for your home improvements project.

Remember that their main goal is to get you to sign a contract. Therefore, they won’t mention any issues that could hinder your progress. However, here are some things you should know before you sign a contract.

1. They are not the only game in town
You don’t want to hire a contractor that you think is the best in your area.

Before you award a home-improvement project, it is important to solicit at least three bids. You can then make an informed hiring decision by comparing prices, methods, materials, and other factors.

Tip: When you ask for bids, make sure you have a comparison. Each contractor should have the same project details. These details could include floor plans and materials. While cost is important, it’s not the only factor to consider.

2. They are going to farm out the work
Many general contractors don’t do the actual work. Although they may have been plumbers or carpenters, general contractors often don’t do the real work.

Their role is to manage budgets and sign clients. Contractors can be very vague when trying to win your business. They may not be clear about how involved they are and who will be managing the job daily.

It would help if you asked who will be responsible for the job site. Jay Rhind, a Stockbridge contractor, said that you should meet the job foreman while working on a current job site.

Tip: Be kind. This will help you keep your crew and contractor on track while also improving the quality of their work.

3. A large deposit is unnecessary — and possibly illegal
A deposit is usually required when you sign a contract. However, this is not required to cover the cost of the contractor’s first materials and set-up fees.

They don’t have to pay anything upfront if their business is in good financial standing and their suppliers are trustworthy. Many states have caps on contractor advances. For example, California caps deposits at 10% of job cost or $1,000, whichever is lower. Check with your state or local consumer agency to find out what the law is in your area.

You should make a small deposit to start a project. Your payment plan should include a set amount of work. If the work isn’t going according to plan, payments will be delayed.

Tip: Charge it if possible. According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit cards are recommended for paying for home improvements. This can protect homeowners in the event of a project going sour. Consumers have the right to withhold payment until the credit balance is paid after making reasonable faith efforts to resolve any issues with their contractor. This includes any finance charges or other related fees.

4. They are increasing the price of not only labor but also materials
Contractors won’t talk about it, but they will mark up all the money they pay to make your job possible. It’s just how they pay their overhead and salaries. Remember that 50% markup could apply to both labor and materials costs.

It would help if you asked your contractor to remove items like flooring, plumbing fixtures, countertops, and cabinets from their price quote. You should agree on the exact amount and the number of the items you will be purchasing, as well as the time they will be delivered to your job site. Then, the overall project cost could be reduced by 10% to 20%.

Tip: Salvage materials can be a great way to cut down on your building costs. You should use upcycled materials wisely to preserve your home’s worth.

5. They are not the design geniuses they claim to be
Yes, there are many contractors with solid design skills. However, they likely spend a lot more time managing their businesses than learning how to design.

It would help if you considered: It depends on how complex your project is; you might need several skilled professionals to complete it. Don’t expect a contractor to design your space or add creative details unless they have a portfolio and have demonstrated their capabilities.

Ask the references about the contractor’s design abilities. In some cases, it might be a better idea to hire an architect for overall planning and a designer for details for your kitchen or bath.

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