If you are considering building or remodeling your South Florida commercial or residential property, you will start your project on the right foot by taking your time to find the best contractor suited for the job. With countless of contractors in our area, this could be an overwhelming task for those property owners new to the industry.
When hiring a contractor, it is important to diligently research while relying on strong recommendations from family, friends and business associates. Interview the top three professionals and don’t be shy in asking lots of questions. Remember, no question is too obvious or impractical when seeking out a contractor who is trustworthy, ethical and has ample experience.
Here are some of the more important questions to ask when interviewing possible candidates:
1. How long have you been a contractor? What is your background?
If possible, hire a local contractor, as it is much easier to gather information on their credentials and reputation if they work within your community. Not only that, you want someone who will visit your project frequently and be able to address any problem quickly and efficiently. Always select a builder that has a close relationship with other local subcontractors and don’t hesitate to request references and follow through with contacting previous clients for their thoughts and opinions. Don’t neglect to check their background and contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed. You can also verify their license by visiting: www.myfloridalicense.com
2. Who are your suppliers?
Are you considering a contractor that changes suppliers frequently or one that has used the same businesses over and over? There could be a reason why a contractor moves from one company to another, so be sure and contact suppliers and ask for their opinion regarding your contractor.
- Does he or she pay their bills on time?
- Have any clients filed complaints?
- Is work on time or constant delays?
If at any time a contractor is reluctant to give you any information on their subcontractors, then it’s time to continue your search.
3. Who will be in charge of the job? How often will you visit?
It’s necessary to find out if a job foreman will be handling the day-to-day operations or if the contractor will be the daily contact. If it is the former, then this calls for a little research as well. Visit the current job where the foreman is working and look over the project and see how well it is moving along. Ask the current client if workers arrive on time each day and if there are many delays. Also inquire if the project is staying on budget and if they are tidy and clean up at the end of each day. Finally, ask the client if they are satisfied with the communication and if they are being kept apprised when a problem arises.
4. What is the scope of the work being performed?
Do not use a contractor based on a verbal agreement. Make sure you have your agreement and scope of work in writing and read it carefully. The written contract should be as detailed as possible, including exactly what the contractor is going to be doing and how it’s going to be done. If there is something in the contract you don’t agree with, ask for it to be removed or find a new contractor.
5. How will invoices and bills be handled?
Whether your project is big or small, getting a detailed bill in a timely manner that is not full of surprises should always be the rule and not the exception. With an itemized bill, it is easier to determine where you can cut costs in other areas should an unexpected repair come up and threaten your budget. No professional contractor will ever balk at this and it should be a standard procedure.
Also, determine when a contractor is paid and that this information is well documented in the contract. Never hire a contractor that demands full payment up front.
Finally, stay clear of any contractor uses intimidation or bully tactics in order to secure your business. Other big warning signs:
- Insists their verbal word is good enough
- Prefers under the table deals
- No identification or proof of current license or insurance
Without the proper documentation, you have no guarantee, paper trail or receipt of the work you have had done and little to no recourse.
6. Are permits required?
Permits are very important and are often overlooked or ignored. Some contractors may even tell people they don’t need permits for work that requires one. You should call your local municipality building/permitting department and as if the work they are doing requires a permit. A building official will inspect the work to ensure it is completed safely and properly.