Hiring a contractor often comes with its risks. Naturally, there are concerns about hiring vendors or individuals to complete construction, landscaping, maintenance, and many other projects without working with them previously. However, hiring a contractor doesn’t need to be a daunting task as long as you have a legitimate process and follow some simple steps. In this article, we have created a complete contractor checklist. Steps in this checklist include critical processes and steps you need to consider before officially hiring a contractor:
- Create a Detailed Plan Project
- Use a Bidding Software
- Ask Your Contractor Questions
- Review Previous Experience & Scammers
- Bonding and Insurance
- Negotiate Costs & Understand Estimates
- Get Everything in Writing
1.Create a Detailed Project Plan
Trying to work with contractors will eventually culminate in negotiations. Contractors will try to get the most for their business, and for this reason, you must understand the details of the project. It is crucial to provide a list of specifications beforehand. Choose the specifications ahead of time to not waste your time and the contractor’s time. Creating a detailed project plan will be your guide or compass for expectations.
Without a plan, the contractor can keep changing prices or rates because you did not discuss specifics from the start. In some instances, it might be best to take advice from professionals to create a project plan, but this depends on the size and complexity of the project.
2.Use a Bidding Software
The simplest and easiest way to ensure that contractors you hire are well-vetted is using a bidding process. Check out our guide on the bidding process to learn more. A bidding software like Ventract gives project creators opportunities to find the best contractors and value for their project. After contractor’s/vendors have bid on your projects, you’ve instantly created a list of contractors to vet through. You can then reach out to these contractors and ask them appropriate questions to help you figure out whether they are the best fit for your project.
3.Ask Your Contractor Questions
As mentioned previously, asking questions will be crucial before you decide on which contractor to hire. Here are a few questions you can use to hire contractors:
- How many years of experience do they have in general?
- How much experience do they have on that particular project?
- List of past work and references?
- Insurance and license?
- When will the project commence?
The answers to the above questions will make the screening process a lot easier for you.
4.Review Previous Work & for Scammers
Experience is crucial, and seeing previous projects from contractors is an excellent indication of their skills. If they’ve never worked on a project similar to yours, you need to move on to other prospects. This is not to say contractors without years of experience aren’t any good, but for specific projects, it’s evident more experience usually means better work. A contractor who has five years under his or her belt has had enough time to learn from mistakes and perfect their craft.
You can also understand the extent of a contractor’s work from reviews and ratings. Using bidding software can provide this information instantly, but contractors with legitimate businesses should also have reviews and feedback with a simple Google search.
Most contractors are genuine, but it is best to also look out for scammers—those who ask for full payment at the start of the project or insists on a cash transaction. However, if you’ve followed the previous tips and steps in this contractor’s checklist, you should already have a good sense of whether your contractors are legitimate.
5.Bonding and Insurance
Certain industries are accident-prone. That’s why everybody is looking to be insured or protected. Ensure contractors you hire have insurance and bonds. If he or she is working with a crew, they should also be insured.
Get the certificate of insurance (COI) details from the contractor. Also, it’s wise to contact the insurance company and verify the coverage. Make sure the policy is still valid.
In case of an accident, the contractor should know how to handle the situation. Don’t risk hiring a contractor that does not have the right insurance coverage. You’ll be responsible for any accident that occurs if contractors are not properly insured.
6.Negotiate Costs & Understand Estimates
You’ll know the estimates of project costs even before the work begins. It’s best to negotiate with contractors to pay one-third of the total amount, and as the work progresses, you can pay the remaining amount in installments. Make sure there is a receipt issued after every payment, and file it for future references.
The contract will not include the extra costs. Seek clarity with your contractor on how he intends to handle additional costs. For example, projects may be delayed due to unavoidable circumstances. It’s essential to prepare yourself for these situations. Understand how these delays will affect overall costs and make sure it’s clearly understood.
7.Get Everything in Writing
You must have all essential details written in a contract and ensure you keep the agreement and all the other documents related to the project in a secure file. Here are some things you should ensure are in contracts:
- Project description
- Price or rates
- Method of payment
- The duration of the project
- Clearly state if there are any guarantees applicable, what is guaranteed, and the person responsible for it
- The contractors and the project manager’s signature
Never sign a contract until the contractor appends his or her signature. And if there are any changes to be made, draft a new agreement.
The permits are also just as necessary as every other thing on this list. Contractors have to come with all the required licenses, including those that some contractors like to leave out because the zoning authorities aren’t strict enough to follow up.
What if you want to cancel the contract? Adhere to the cancellation clause. Again, make sure everything is in writing, and keep the receipts.
This includes everything from different change orders, bills and invoices, plans and specifications, and canceled checks. Even take pictures of the project and its progress if necessary. You’ll want to ensure you have the collateral required in case anything goes wrong.
This contractor checklist should get you started on finding the best candidates for your projects. Of course, all projects are different, and some may require more in-depth analysis before hiring a contractor. However, going through this contractor checklist every time will provide you with a strong foundation and ensure you are hiring contractors that give you the most value.