Tips for Hiring a Home Improvement Professional
Whether you’ve decided to put up a fence around the backyard pool or update the guest bathroom, hiring a professional to get the job done can take away a little bit of the stress. However, actually hiring the professional will take a little bit of work on your end.
Get Project Bids
When it comes to hiring a professional, it can be easy to just hire the first person you come across to expedite the process and get the work underway, but it is important to shop around. Just like you shop around at different stores when looking to make a purchase such as a couch or dining room table, it is important to shop around when finding a professional to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Make a goal to obtain three bids or estimates. According to Angies List, by obtaining three bids you will be able to get an idea of the average price range, as well as identify any outliers such as a price that is too high or low. An effective bid should include start and completion dates, payment terms, cost of labor and materials, the cost for permits to be pulled, and proof of licensure or liability insurance if necessary. In addition to getting the bids, meeting with three professionals will give you an idea of their personalities, communication styles, and flexibility. This person will be working in your home for anywhere from a day to a few weeks depending on the extent of the project, so it is important that you feel comfortable with them in your home.
Get a Written Contract
When you hire a professional, consider getting some form of contract in writing to avoid confusion or issues. Technically, a verbal agreement or handshake can serve as a contract, but having everything in writing can ensure that everyone is on the same page and serve as a point of reference when questions come up. No matter how small or large the home project is, having a contract will lessen the likelihood of problems occurring. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says a contract should include the following:
Contractor’s name, address, phone, and license number
Estimated start and completion date
Contractor’s obligation to obtain all required permits
A detailed list of all materials
Information about warranties covering materials and labor
Any promises or special requests made during phone calls, conversations, or via email/text
Keep all documents related to the project in a safe place where they can be easily located should you need to refer to them.
Consider the Type of Price Agreement
When it comes to paying a professional, it is important that the payment schedule is spelled out in your written contract. For small projects, you might consider a fixed-price agreement in which the contractor completes the project for an agreed-upon price. Spend Matters says this type of agreement makes the payment schedule easy to manage, as payments are made based on the percentage of the completed work. It also offers predictability and fosters a greater sense of collaboration with the contractor since he or she is under pressure to protect their margins by using thorough project management communication.
For projects that might run a little longer, you might consider a time and materials agreement in which the contractor determines your cost based upon an hourly rate of labor and cost of materials. This type of agreement is advantageous in situations where the project is fast-tracked since it offers a greater deal of flexibility to change scope, designs, and materials. Ask your contractor for clarification about the different contracts, and understand what limitations each hold. Although you have hired someone, you and your contractor are on the same team so communication is key for an effective home renovation.
There are plenty of reasons to hire a home improvement professional, whether you simply need something fixed or want to increase the value of your home. While there are certainly times when doing it yourself is the cheaper and even more practical option, sometimes you’re just going to need a professional to have the job done well.
Paul is the owner of DadKnowsDIY.com, which shows off helpful DIY projects.