KNOW YOUR HOME AND DEFINE YOUR PROJECT
A contractor will know as much about your home as he can observe and what you tell him. Basic knowledge of your home systems will go a long way in keeping the contractor informed and able to do their job. It is important for you to share details like the year the house was built, type of heating system, any previous repairs and other important information about the home with the contractor. You should also define the scope of work clearly so that you and the contractor are on the same page from the beginning, making for a smoother project.
Shop around and do research before selecting a contractor. Ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations and suggestions, or get started with our contractor resource list. Price, quality of work, timeliness and reputation are all things to consider when looking for a contractor. It is best to get a proposal in writing along with an estimated timeline for getting the work done. Gather at least three proposals for competitive bidding. This will give you a good idea of what a fair price will be for the project.
Once you’ve got it narrowed down to a few contractors make time to meet with them in person to discuss your project. Be clear about what you want but also keep an open mind to changes in the scope that may improve the project outcome. The contractor will be at your home doing the work so you should feel comfortable communicating your needs and preferences with him or her.
Sign a contract with the contractor, especially for bigger jobs, that includes the complete cost breakdown, specifications on the work to be completed, start and completion dates, change order clauses, liability, contractor should be responsible for work of all subcontractors, permits, cancellation rights, cleanup of site, warranties of work performed.
DO YOUR PART
Once you’ve selected a contractor be sure to clean and move materials out of the way of the location of the work and make sure your home is accessible to the contractor throughout the project. Be sure to voice your thoughts during the project if something isn’t going the way you want or if you don’t understand something. Remember, you are paying for a service and you will need to live in the home long after the contractor leaves. Equally important, be respectful when voicing your concerns or suggestions.