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Do your homework when hiring a contractor

Hiring a contractor for home renovations or repairs makes many people nervous. And that's understandable.

Hiring a contractor for home renovations or repairs makes many people nervous. And that's understandable. Everyone has heard stories about tradesmen who don't show up, aren't qualified or lack ethics.

Luckily, there are some great contractors out there, too. Finding that person is easier if you follow a few simple rules:


Collect some personal referrals
Look for contractors who have already done good work for family members, friends and neighbours. Your local homebuilders association is another source of leads.


Start with informal meetings
Don't be in a rush to get formal quotations. At first, you just want to see if you get a good feeling about the different candidates. If you don't like them over a cup of coffee, you won't fall in love with them when they start ripping into your walls.


Letters of reference are overrated
No contractor is going to show you a bad one. Instead, ask about the job(s) the contractor is doing right now. If they have no jobs "right now," be very wary. Whatever they are currently working on, ask to talk to that homeowner personally.


Three or four quotes are enough
Throw out any quotes that are more than ten or 15 per cent higher or lower than the average.


Make your final decision on a combination of gut feel and price
You might get a much warmer feeling about the second-lowest (or even third-lowest) quote than the low bidder. Trust your instincts. That person might be your best bet.


Don't do "under the table" deals
If there is no formal contract and no record of payment, what are you going to do if the job goes bad?


Get It In Writing
For more information on hiring the right contractor, visit www.hiringacontractor.com. For hands-on renovation training, visit biyworkshops.com.

Jim Caruk, HGTV Host, has been a renovation contractor for more than 30 years. He is the founder of Build It Yourself Learning Centers which teaches homeowners how to complete their own repairs and renovations (www.biyworkshops.com).

 
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