Tips for Hiring a Contractor
ContentsThe Registrar of Contractors advises homeowners to protect themselves by:
- Reviewing the contractor’s license record at Contractor Search.
- Verifying that the person is an authorized representative of the licensed contractor by calling the contractor’s number listed on the ROC license record.
- Asking for written estimates from at least three contractors.
- Requesting a list of references and checking them.
- Making sure the scope of the project, the price, the responsibility to obtain building permits, and any other relevant terms are spelled out in a written contract.
- Never paying in cash, making checks payable to the licensed contractor (not an individual), and not allowing payments to get ahead of the work.
- Taking pictures throughout the stages of the project (before, during, and after).
- Avoiding contractors who require large upfront payments.
- Never making a hurried decision.
The ContractHave a legible written contract prepared with at least the following items included:
- The contractor's company name, address, telephone number and current contractor's license number
- The homeowner's name(s), address and the jobsite address
- List the payment schedule you have agreed to in the contract.
- A detailed description of the job specifications, the exact work to be performed, the brand and model of all material and equipment to be provided and any required drawings or plans should be approved and signed by all parties
- All subtotal amounts should be listed for each trade and a grand total of the contract price listed.
- The signature of all parties to the contract and the date signed.
- The completion date of the work to be performed. (If the completion date is critical, the parties should negotiate a liquidated damages clause, if necessary, to insure that completion is timely.)
- Get all addenda, change orders and credits in writing with a date and signature. (Think of these as mini-contracts.)
- Consider asking about the contractor's insurance coverage over the project and ask for proof of insurance.
- Keep a copy of all contract documents, notes, drawings, letters and memos for your records.
Proof of Payment
- NEVER pay with cash.
- Request a properly executed and notarized lien waiver/release in exchange for each payment made.
- Have the bank return a front and back copy of each cancelled check issued as payment.
- Keep a copy of the front side of personal checks issued as payment.
- Keep copies of bank statements that reflect checks issued as the payments clear your account.
- Request a formal account statement from the contractor that reflects services rendered, invoice numbers and payments made.
- Request a formal account statement from the contractor that reflects balance of an account paid in full.
- Make personal checks payable to the licensed contractor's company name only.
- If you pay with a cashier's check, keep a copy of the front side of the cashier check.
- Never make a personal check payable to a company partner or employee.
- Never pay a contractor's employees directly.
- Obtain properly executed and authorized bank records (outgoing electronic wire transfer document) to document draws made to a contractor by your bank on a construction loan.
- If you make a payment to your contractor's subcontractor, issue the check as a two-party joint check to both the general contractor and the subcontractor.
- Keep a copy of all credit card statements that reflect purchases for the project or payments made to a contractor.