Finding the perfect contractor for your next home improvement project or remodel can feel like the quest to find your ideal soul mate:
- Are they good listeners?
- Will they show up when they say they will?
- Are they committed to you?
- Do your friends and family members like them?
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection are great resources for home improvement tips. For more information, check out their websites.
Some meaningful things pulled from these sources that you should consider are:
Licensed to drill. Is your contractor licensed with the state and do they have the skills to do the job? Are they bonded and insured? Always ask for your contractor’s license number before you sign any contracts. Massachusetts law requires contractors to list their license number on any advertising, so if you don’t see a number, don’t bother contacting them.
But, just because a contractor is registered with the state doesn’t mean that they’ll do a good job. Which leads us to…
Get those references. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth doing some legwork before you start any project on your home—after all, it’s one of your biggest (non-living) investments. Use your neighborhood email listserv, if you have one, or just ask neighbors about their experience if you see them getting work done. You can also use the web to research contractors through sites such as Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.
Get it in writing. According to consumer advocate Mitch Lipka, any job over $1,000 should be in writing and detail the job duration, start and anticipated end dates, overall job specs, and payment schedule. It’s typical to pay about one-third to one-half of the total price up front, unless you negotiate (and sign!) a different payment agreement with the contractor.
Once you do hire someone, make sure they understand your expectations about working in your home, such as your preferred (and practical) start and finish times and whether you’re okay with them using your bathroom.
Trust your instincts. Finding your contractor-soul mate involves careful research, but it also requires you to look within for those subjective impressions that should guide your decision-making process.. If, after looking at a list of closely qualified contractor candidates, you’re still not sure whether or not to hire someone, ask yourself: How does this person make me feel? Am I comfortable with them — and the idea of them working in my home? Do I trust them?
Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.