Hiring a Contractor

The following are general guidelines from the Better Business Bureau on steps to take before hiring a home improvement contractor:

  1. Always obtain at least two or three bids from competing contractors to compare prices, skills and experience levels.

  2. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor, making sure they are based on the same specifications, materials, labor, and time factors.

  3. Ask the contractor if his company is insured against claims covering workers compensation, property damage, and personal liability.  Verify with his insurance agency.

  4. Check with the state Department of Community Affairs, Division of Codes and Standards, (609)-530-8800, to see if the contractor is licensed and bonded.

  5. All oral promises should be put in writing.  This includes any revisions to the original contract.

  6. The written contract should include:
    1. A complete description of work to be done, including specifications for materials used (quantity, cost, brand).
    2. Starting and completion dates.
    3. A payment schedule.  A traditionally acceptable schedule allows the contractor a third up front, a third half way through and the remainder upon completion and acceptance.
    4. Any warranties or guarantees of workmanship and materials.
    5. Cleanup responsibilities.

  7. You should have the contractor’s full name, address, phone number and license number on the contract.

  8. You have the right to cancel within three days of signing a contract.

    Note: Some homeowners also recommend checking with local authorities for any complaints.