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Eight tips for hiring a contractor

For most families, their home is their most valuable investment, so when it comes to making changes, repairs or improvements, it’s important to find the right company to do the work – one that is experienced, easy to work with, reputable and accountable.

It’s fine to get recommendations from family, friends and neighbors, but the Better Business Bureau suggests that homeowners take their research further by following the steps listed below before signing a contract for work in and around one’s home.

1. Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.

2. Ask about the company’s insurance. Does it carry worker’s compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.

3. Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state?

4. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required.

5. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver when the job is completed. A lien waiver is a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor.

6. Ask for a contract and read it. Get any verbal promises in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.

7. Don’t pay the entire amount due until the work is completed and you are satisfied. Be careful if a contractor wants to be paid in full up front. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials. But the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is complete.

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