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How to Vet a Contractor Before Signing Contract

2:06 PM, Jul 28, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Adding home improvements can be exciting and increase the value of your home. It can also be your worst nightmare. So here are my top 10 ways to vet the most qualified person for your home improvement.

Number 10: Get several proposals in writing before selecting a contractor.

Tom Stephens, a spokesman for the Better Business Bureau, said, "It lets you know that you're getting a fair price on the job."

Number Nine: Check them out.

Check the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the local construction trades qualifying board and the Better Business Bureau.

"Check the corporation status at, which is the consumer website to see if any complaints have been filed there," said Stephens.

Number Eight: Request a list of suppliers.

Contact the suppliers to see the status of their relationship with the company. "You can also check court records to see if he's got any judgments filed against him," he said.

Number Seven: Ask for at least five references.

Call the references. You want to know if the job was done in a timely manner.

Number Six: Check their insurance.

Find out what kind of insurance the contractor has - worker's comp, property damage, personal liability - and verify if possible. "Find out who the agent is and get a current certificate of insurance," said Stephens.

Number Five: Review the contract carefully before signing anything, including a bid.

Number Four: Make sure the contract includes the type and brand names of the materials to be used.

Number Three: Pay your contractor in thirds.

Before you write the check, make sure the work is completed to your satisfaction at each phase. "If he wants money up front, I wouldn't give anymore than 25 percent," added Stephens.

Number Two: Make sure you have a start and end date.

Does the contract include a start and completion date? Does it include penalties for violations of the time frame?

Number One: Make sure that you receive a waiver of lien before paying the last bill.

That way you can avoid the threat of a construction lien from a supplier or a subcontractor. "It protects you from subcontractor that don't get paid," said Stephens.

These On Your Side tips will save you a headache during your next renovation or remodelling.                                














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