Home Construction Contractors 5-point checklist to hiring a contractor

5-point checklist to hiring a contractor


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A home remodelling job can be very stressful. Not only do you have to decide exactly what you want, but you have to hire a contractor, or a set of contractors, to realize your vision.

Your home is a very personal asset, so it is critical to hire the right contractors. We’ve listed below 5 essential steps to hiring a contractor you can be proud of.

1. Get a written price estimate

After you have spoken with several contractors and narrowed your options, ask each contractor to provide a written estimate. Review those estimates carefully, and then ask the contractor to explain the assumptions behind the estimate. For instance, the different bids may be based on vastly different assumptions on quality of materials.

Do not necessarily hire the lowest cost option, but rather find out why the price estimates are different. Also factor in how you feel about the contractor based on your meetings and discussions.

2. Understand the contractor’s experience and approach

Ask probing questions such as

  • Their experience on similar work
  • The required permits
  • The tools and equipment required
  • Major milestones along the journey

Make sure you are comfortable that the contractor has the necessary experience in doing similar work. You should also ask for references so you can verify that the contractor actually delivers on-time, on-budget and delivers a good quality output.

3. Verify their licenses and insurance

You should verify that the contractor is licensed and has sufficient insurance. At a minimum, he/she should have liability insurance that includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage. For licensing, he/she should be licensed for all the activities that would be required as part of the job. In addition, if the contractor is planning to hire sub-contractors, he/she should be responsible for ensuring each of them is licensed and carries sufficient insurance.

4. Negotiate payment options

Try to avoid paying cash, especially up-front. Paying by cheque or credit card offers you some traceability in case something goes wrong. Some credit cards even provide insurance against fraud.

Limit how much you pay upfront. It is natural for contractors to want some payment upfront, and that is fair. However, try to make payments contingent upon successful completion of certain milestones. This way, you can withhold payment in case the work is not completed or if it is of poor quality.

5. Get a Written Contract

Make sure you get a written contract that includes as many of the following as possible:

  • Contractor’s name, contact information and license information
  • The expected start and end-dates of the project
  • Total payable amount, including the payment schedule
  • Any agreements you have reached regarding warrantee of workmanship, getting permits for all the work, cancellation policy and how changes are to be handled

About Zensurance

Zensurance is Canada’s leading online commercial insurance broker. We offer a full range of insurance products to small businesses, with a particular focus on digitizing businesses and technology startups. We understand what it is to work with new technology, and know the most common risks of which you should be aware. Based on that (and a lot of analytics), we recommend the ideal insurance coverage for your business.

If you have specific questions about your business insurance, please visit us as www.zensurance.ca or email us at info@zensurance.com and we will find the answers for you.

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