Contractor Mike Holmes stumped just about everyone in our audience with his true/false game about working with contractors. Think you know better? Take a look at the contractor secrets Mike revealed and see how much you learn.
Each contractor who comes on to your property should have a valid license. Make sure you ask to see it and inspect it closely. Licenses are offered by the government and expire yearly, so make sure you check to see if their license is valid. The government supplies permits for renovation, electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling. The license doesn't ensure quality but it is the first step in investigating your contractor.
It is your right as a homeowner to demand that your contractor carry valid insurance, which covers you in case of any accidents on the job site. If a contractor doesn't have valid insurance, they can obtain temporary insurance to cover the work on your property. Some contractors may threaten to not do work on your property if you demand insurance, but do you want someone like that working on your property?
Mike has at least 20 references he can give out on request. Once the contractor has supplied such a list, call a number of them. Ask the homeowners important questions like: Did the contractor start and finish on time? How much down did they ask for? Did you have any problems on the job? Was the contractor pleasant to work with? Did they surprise you with extra cost you did not expect?
Try to see at least three properties that the contractor has completed that had similar work done to your request. This is important. You don't want a fence expert doing a stucco job on your $30,000 addition.
If your contractor is a good one, they will have a list of references detailing different and varied clients with up-to-date contact information including: name, address, phone numbers, and info on the work done including quote.
Before you agree to have the contractor do work on your property, it is the contractor's responsibility to provide a contract containing all their contact information and detailing the work to be completed on your property, supplies they will be using, sub contractors (if any) who will be coming onto the property and a detailed payment schedule. It should also be stated in the contract that you will not pay any costs above the quote unless agreed to in writing.
A good landmark to use depending on the size of your job is an average "good faith" down payment of $2,500, which is basically booking a contractor's time.
When they arrive at the job site with their tools ready to work, you can give them another 10 percent.
Make sure you never pay in cash. Always pay by cheque or certified cheque. It is important to keep a paper trail in case you ever have to go to court. It is always important to get a receipt for every payment you pay the contractor, signed and dated by the contractor