Hiring independent contractors for projects can save homeowners time and effort -- carefully selecting and instructing construction contractors can save even more.
Asking independent contractors for references and accreditation such as a contractor's license is crucial. Agreeing to a contract that clearly lays out what work will be performed along with the project timeframe and budget is also important, whether you're hiring general contractors to manage an entire home renovation or building contractors to install new cabinets.
Steps to working with construction contractors include:
1. Finding construction contractors or general contractors.
2. Checking references for independent contractors.
3. Verifying a contractor’s license.
4. Writing contracts for building contractors.
5. Making changes to contracts with independent contractors or general contractors.
Find construction contractorsAside from personal referrals from colleagues and friends, a number of online sources are available to help you find independent contractors. Get estimates from a few building contractors to help you narrow down your pool of construction contractors.
Verify your contractor's licenseIt's important to get references from past clients and confirm potential contractors have the proper contractor's license and insurance. Most states require building contractors to be registered at the state level and sometimes at the local level. Many states also require building contractors to have liability insurance to protect homeowners in case of a worksite injury.
Have building contractors sign written contractsA project contract can protect you if construction contractors fall behind schedule or underperform. The contract should clearly state the project's start and end date, a payment schedule for supplies and work performed, a detailed supplies list, warranties for any materials and workmanship and a clear definition of the work that will be performed by construction contractors.
Make changes to contracts with independent contractors in writingConstruction contractors know that delays can occur due to unforeseen weather, material shortage or other problems. Any changes in the project's timeframe or scope should be handled through a change order, a written approval to change or add to the original work described in the contract.
Make sure construction contractors obtain the proper permitsBefore beginning construction, make sure your independent contractor has obtained the proper local building permits for the project to avoid any fines.
Hire general contractors for big projectsFor large construction plans, such as building a new home or undertaking a massive renovation, hire general contractors who manage entire projects. General contractors' duties can include working with architects, scheduling inspections and hiring and supervising subcontractors.
- Be wary of independent contractors who cannot provide references, pressure you to sign a contract immediately or want you to pay for the entire project in advance.
- The National Association of the Remodeling Industry recommends staying in close contact with building contractors to avoid delays.
- Always check references to see if building contractors meet project deadlines.
- Make sure any subcontractors have a contractor's license and are insured.
- Most building contractors require a down payment before starting work -- one-third to one-fourth of the total estimated project cost is common.