10 Tips to Hiring a Contractor...
1) Go with Your Gut
A contractor could be in your home and around your family for days, weeks, or even months while changing the way your house looks and functions. So if you don't like a contractor for any reason, don't hire him or her.
You have to trust the contractor 100 percent, not 95 percent."
2) Make Sure the Contractor is Licensed to Work in Your Area, Bonded, and Insured
Having a license and insurance demonstrates a contractor's credibility and knowledgeI see a lot of people who don't cover their bases when hiring contractors. If a contractor is unregistered with Worksafe BC and is injured at your residence, WCB will come after you personally for the payments they make to the worker.
You can't rely on not knowing the registered status of the contractor or that he "told you" he had WCB coverage. It also doesn't matter if the injury happened as a result of the contractor's own negligence.
People have quite literally lost their homes over this. To meet your obligations, you have to get the contractor's WCB number and get a clearance letter from the following web page. WorkSafeBC
3) Pick a Contractor Who Specializes in Your Project Type
It's important to research contractors to know if they have experience in a type of project. Today, so many projects are regulated and code-specific that you want someone who knows the details of what's required.
If you're asking several contractors for a bid, make sure each one is using the same set of plans and specifications; you can't effectively compare estimates from contractors who plan to use different brands of building materials.
4) Have a Detailed Contract in Place Before any Work Begins
The contract should cover costs, brands of items being installed, approximate start and finish dates, and the complete set of drawings being used with written specifications. There's never too much detail in a contract. If a specific brand for a part hasn't been agreed upon yet, the contract can include allowances instead, such as "up to $500 for a front door."
A lot of homeowners talk to multiple contractors to get bids on the job, and then they can't remember who told them what. A contract is really an expectation setting, right down to what color the hinges are. It's all about expectations. If we agree on everything upfront, then there are no surprises.
5) Find out Who's Performing the Work
Will the person you're hiring do the work himself, or will it be subcontracted to someone else? It's nice to know who will be showing up on your doorstep, and large jobs like additions and major kitchen remodels often involve multiple subcontractors, such as electricians and plumbers. General contractors often subcontract specialty jobs, like roofing or vinyl siding, to other pros.
Having subcontractors is sometimes a good thing. They have a more thorough knowledge of their part of the job; it all goes back to hiring a contractor you can trust because he's never going to put a bad subcontractor on your job.
6) Give the Contractor Guidelines for Working In or Around Your Home
If you don't want the workers showing up before a certain time, staying past a certain hour, using your bathroom, or you need to have the project finished by a specific date, tell the contractor before you hire him. The contractor may not want or be able to accept the job based on your parameters.
The contractor has to know what your limits are and what your expectations are. If people don't want you starting until 9:30 and want you out by 4, that project—instead of taking 30 days—might take 45. That means it might cost additional money.
7) Know What Your Responsibilities Are
You may have to move everything out of a room so it can be painted or remove a fence so a concrete truck can be driven into your backyard.
8) Ask About a Trade Lien
Under the TRADE lien laws in British Columbia, anyone who worked on or supplied materials to your project and is not paid can place a lien on your home. This means that even if you pay your contractor, but he doesn't pay the lumberyard for your materials, you can be liable for that bill. It's important for homeowners to understand the lien laws in British Columbia.
And definitely check on your contractor's legal status before you sign anything. If a contractor owes $30,000 from his last job, there's a good chance your money is going to pay the bills on that last job.
If a contractor has a lien against him, it's best to move on and avoid a potentially messy situation.
Great Website: http://www.cba.org/bc/public_media/housing/268.aspx
9) Look at Work Samples
This lets you see a contractor's handiwork and may spark ideas for your project. "Samples are more important than references," Peterson says. "They allow you to see the quality of our work. You can see the designs we came up with and how creative we are."
Looking at a contractor's past projects also lets you see the variety of work the company has performed, such as contemporary, Craftsman, or historic designs.
10) Think Locally
Area contractors who have been in business for a long time are usually reliable and safe bets for projects. If they didn't do good work in your community, they wouldn't still be around.