How to Hire a Contractor - Checklist

Do you know what to look for when hiring a contractor? Learn how to hire a contractor with our complete checklist and guide.

RELATED: Should You Hire a Contractor or Do It Yourself?

What to Look for When Hiring a Contractor

Finding a honest contractor who provides quality work on time is one of the most important things you'll have to do a property owner.

Word of mouth recommendation - The simple act of asking your friends and associates for referrals is one of the most effective and time-tested methods to get a good contractor. If you belong to a landlord or property manager association, you can also call them up to ask for referrals (and member discounts).

Ask your contacts whether the work was completed on time, if there were any unexpected costs and what they disliked about the contractor. If possible, it would be even better if they can let you visit their property so that you can judge the contractor's work quality for yourself.

Get at least three price quotes - If you are sourcing for a big project (more than $5,000), then we recommend getting at least five price quotes from different contractors.

How to hire a contractor tips: The main point of these price quotes is to get a feel of the going market rate for the job (to prevent yourself from being ripped by a rogue contractor). It is not necessarily for you to single out the absolute cheapest contractor - When hiring contractors, always choose the one that gives you the best value, not the lowest price.

Check the contractor's BBB rating - Better Business Bureau is a popular resource for checking on the credibility of a contractor in the United States and Canada.

BBB grades contractors from A+ to F. In general, we would only consider contractors with a grade of C and higher. You can search for the contractor's name on the BBB website and see all the complaints that are filed by their customers.

Insist on hiring licensed contractors - Especially for jobs that may affect the structural integrity and safety of your property... such as electrical wiring, plumbing, demolition and erecting of add-on structures.

To check if your contractor is licensed, ask for his or her contractor registration number and look it on the Labor & Industries search page. Contractors are required to include this registration number in all their advertisements.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor

1. How long have you been working on similar projects?

Before you a hire contractor, it's important to check their experience level. Experience plays a big part when working on a property - It gives them time to build up a reliable chain of suppliers and subcontractors plus it lowers the chances of mistakes and accidents. That's why it's essential that your contractor has at least 2 years of recent and relevant experience.

2. Are your bids a fixed price or an estimate?

When you ask for price quotes, you'll want a fixed price bid instead of cost estimates. Some dishonest contractors have been known to give low cost estimates, only to bump up their price dramatically during the course of the project. Give your contractor specific details on the type of work you want, and ask for an itemized fixed price bid.

3. Can you give me references to your previous clients?

If a contractor has done jobs that they can be proud of, then they should be more than happy to point you in the direction of their ex-customers. Just like dealing with word of mouth referrals, you should ask (at least 3) ex-clients whether their project were completed on time, how was the work quality and if they had any complaints.

4. Will you be hiring any subcontractors for this job?

For larger projects, it's common for contractors to hire subcontractors and outsource part of thw work to third parties. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, it's a good practice to make sure that the subcontractors are licensed and insured as well.

5. Will you be providing a warranty for your work?

Most reliable contractors should be willing to offer 3 to 6 months of warranty upon completion of their work. Before you hire a contractor, negotiate the warranty terms (e.g. what are considered as defects/faults and whether there are any fees associated with warranty repairs) and put them down in writing in your owner contractor agreement.

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