It’s important to oversee the details of any repair or remodeling job done on your home. There are a number of ways to protect yourself from incompetent or dishonest contractors. Start with a contract and keep track of the job as it progresses to make sure you get the work you pay for. Once you’ve selected a licensed contactor and completed the contract, you should follow a payment schedule and sign off on completed work. These steps will protect you from builder scams and shoddy work:
- Be sure to sign a formal contract for work.
- Read the contract carefully and personally fill in any blank spaces. Consider having an attorney review it. If you don’t have an attorney, contact your state bar association or your state or local division of legal services for a referral.
- Verify the contractor’s contact information, including the state license number. Most states require a licensed contactor to perform certain jobs, including plumbing, heating, electrical, roofing, alarm work, and permit-related building.
- Include a full description of the work being done, including a schedule and the materials that will be used.
- Determine in the contract when payments will be made made—upon the completion of each phase of the job or after an inspection and sign-off.
- Set a completion date to include cleanup.
- Include a warranty agreement.
- Make sure the contract includes provisions for how work outside the scope of the original contract will be presented to the homeowner and billed.
- Make sure theat you is complete and signed by all parties.
It’s very important to keep track of the work being done. If there are dates for completion or the delivery of materials, check that those items are completed successfully and mark the dates on your copy of the contract. Keep careful notes about any delays in the delivery of materials, weather delays, or work slowdowns. Make payments according to the schedule set forth in the contract and follow the recommendations below:
- Do not pay in cash.
- Be wary of those who ask that checks be written directly in their name.
- Do not pay up front. Arrange to pay after the work is completed or in installments.
- Beware of contractorswho travel in unmarked vehicles, solicit door-to-door, or use a post office box for an address.
- Do not pull your own building permits.
- Do not sign a completion certificate until all work is finished and has passed a final inspection.
Most contractors are hardworking and honest. They will appreciate a firm contract that guarantees their payment and a timely schedule. By working with a licensed professional and using a solid contract for services, you will protect yourself and your home from dishonest businesspeople who take advantage of homeowners.