If you own a home or commercial property, that building likely represents your most significant financial investment. And when it comes time to make improvements, repairs, and upgrades, you don’t want to trust an asset like that to just any general contractor. But aside from carefully evaluating your contractor choice, there are a few things you should avoid in order to offer yourself additional financial (and legal) protection, including:
Failing to Get a Written Contract
Most contractors operate on a “quote system,” and they have an incentive to get you to pay as much for their services as possible. This means the best way to avoid hidden fees and ballooning labor costs is to clearly establish the budget, guidelines, and payment schedule ahead of time. Print these documents out and get them signed by the contraction company. This will give you a leg to stand on if the relationship (or the project) sours.
Paying for Services in Cash
Cash is king for many businesses, but it’s a big red flag when you’re working with a contractor. A reputable business will accept a wide variety of payment options and provide you with receipts when the transaction is done. Without proof of payment, a shady contractor could come after you and claim they never received the cash!
Paying for Your Project Upfront
Reputable contracting companies won’t bat an eye at getting paid on a schedule. This is not only how they build trust with their customers, but also how they keep the project from going over budget. Usually, you will be asked to submit a deposit or portion of the payment upfront, then pay the rest upon completion. For bigger jobs, you may be asked to pay as certain “milestones” are finished.
Not Getting a Lien Waiver
In the event that you fail to make proper payments, contractors (and any subcontractors they may hire) could have a legal right to place a lien against your property. Such a situation can be hard to resolve, even if you have proof that you’ve paid them in full. To keep this from happening, you should print a legal “Waiver of Lien” and get it signed by your contracting team. This will remove their legal rights to your property and force them to resolve disputes in ways that offer you more defense.
Forgetting to Check Their Workmen’s Comp and Insurance
If your contractor doesn’t have the proper workmen’s compensation and insurance coverage, you can end up financially liable for any accidents that take place on your property. Workman steps on a nail? Roofer falls off a ladder? The responsibility for those injuries is on you. The only way you can protect yourself is to verify the contractor’s insurance and workmen’s comp coverage before any work starts. And if you get the impression your contractor is reluctant to show these documents, run for the hills!
In the end, the most important part of the general contractor hiring process is the “vetting phase.” This is where you need to do some serious research on the company, their reputation, and their past work. See what you can find online first, but you should also be prepared to ask them for references that you can call and “before” and “after” photos of some of their best work.
Lastly, you want to get a real “feel” for your contacting team by meeting them in person. You can tell a lot about a company from the way its leaders represent themselves. The more honest, forthright, and service-oriented they seem, the more likely they are to make you a very happy customer.
Contact Todd Huff Construction Inc. today! The best general contractor in Ventura county with over 30+ years of home building experience.