Home Improvement Contractor – Is He Qualified?

I am a general contractor in the state of Michigan. In other words I fix, build, or remodel anything pertaining to residential homes. The purpose of this article is to inform home owners about a growing problem in the construction/remodeling industry. That problem is the increasing numbers of unqualified individuals that are entering the field.

Due to the struggling economy and recent lay offs, many conversations around the kitchen table go something like this: “What are we going to do now Jane”? “Well John, you helped my brother roof his house that one time and you fixed the door on our shed and you like working around the house…why don’t you put an ad in the paper as a roofer or a carpenter”? “Hey Jane, that’s a great idea. I can get business by offering a really low price. Yea, that’s what I’ll do”!

Now I feel for a guy that is out of work. I really do. But when an unqualified individual decides “hey I’ll be a contractor”, all to often this results in nothing but trouble for the customer. What happens if John falls off the roof or drops his hammer on the hood of your brand new car? Is he insured?

What about warranties? If he says “I will guarantee this roof won’t leak for 5 years”, and then it does, will he still be in business? Statistics say no. As a matter of fact, most of the people entering into business today will not be in business 1 year from now, much less 5 years from now.

Of course there is the most important question: does he know what he’s doing? Does the fact that John helped his brother roof a house make him a qualified roofer?

There are insurance considerations as well. For example, lets say a home owner hires an individual that is not licensed to install a new furnace in his home. If the furnace starts a fire and burns the house down, some insurance companies will deny the claim. The reason is since there is no record of a permit(which there would not be as an unlicensed individual can not obtain a permit) they assume that the furnace could have been installed incorrectly. Now a home owner is left with a huge loss and all because they wanted to save a few bucks on the installation.

Do yourself a favor and stick with a pro. If you conduct a proper contractor interview, then you know that you are going to get a quality job by a licensed and insured individual who offers a warranty……..and honors it. If you are not sure how to conduct a proper contractor interview, you can find information on this and other subjects at my web site.

Understanding More About Home Improvement Contractors

Home improvement contractors cannot legally take up projects and otherwise work as contractors unless they are licensed. There is one license issuing authority in every state of the USA. Note the following points:

– The license is proof of the competence and capability of the license holder to work as a home improvement contractor.

– If you employ an unlicensed home improvement contractor, the work carried out shall be considered illegal.

– If such a person is utilized to install a product, the owner of the product faces the risk of losing the advantages of all warranties and insurance policies on the product. If something goes wrong during the installation, the owner shall have no protection whatsoever.

– Any person desirous of starting a home improvement business should contact the proper authorities to obtain the licenses and registrations.

The process is a time consuming one and should be commenced at least six months prior to the planned date of commencement of business. So plan ahead.

Home Improvement Is Not As Easy As It Seems

It is dangerous to think that home improvement is an easy task with no further specializations in the field. The truth is that each home improvement contractor, sooner or later, chooses to specialize in a particular aspect of his work.

The general areas of specialization are:

a. designing
b. plumbing
c. electrical work
d. engineering work
e. joining work
f. interior designing

You may notice that your home improvement plans stretch over multiple areas. Hence, simply employing one home improvement contractor to do the entire job irrespective of his specialization may lead to shoddy work. Rather, it makes sense to employ different contractors for doing different works so that you get the best quality work done. At the end of the day, quality matters.

The worst mistake that you can make is to presume that anybody can do the work of a home improvement contractor. That is not true. Pulling down parts of your home and rebuilding it or adding new parts to it is a specialist’s job.

Do not be penny wise and pound foolish!

Avoid undertaking home improvement works on your own. Search for efficient and reliable contractors. Spread the work among your friends and relatives.

Get them to recommend a contractor they know. You can get good quality work done at very affordable prices. Your house will look good and your wallet will not end up empty. Many people employ specialists to build or modify their houses but choose to do the interior designing on their own. All your efforts at home improvement will go waste if your house looks ugly from the inside.

If you know nothing about interior designing, get a specialist to do it. These specialists will do a good job in making your house look pretty from the inside as well. However, they tend to be expensive and the cost of the consultation, materials and labor can weigh down your budget. Prefer specialists only if you can afford them.

When a home improvement chore comes up, honestly appraise your abilities and ask whether you can do the job yourself. Unless you are totally certain, do not do it yourself. If you decide to employ home improvement contractors, make sure you choose licensed contractors only. Irrespective of whether the job is big or small, quick or lengthy, cheap or expensive, never choose an unlicensed contractor.

How To Choose the Right Home Improvement Contractor

If you’re ready to hire a home improvement contractor, make sure you take a few important details into consideration before you sign on the dotted line. All contractors are not created equal, and it is important to find someone that can not only meet your individual needs, but exceed them. You also want someone who can suggest ways to improve on the vision you have for your home while also making sure the ideas you have are reasonable given your home’s construction.

One of the greatest ways to find a contractor is by referral. Asking friends and neighbors who helped them with their houses is a good way to find someone you can trust. Make sure you ask what specifically the contractors did for them, whether they worked within their agreed upon timeframe and if they would use them again. Just because they’ve used them once doesn’t mean they’d use them again, and you should never assume. Also ask how the contractor handled any problems that came up and what the contractor’s team is like.

Once you have a name or two in mind, take the time to check out their credentials. The first thing you can do is visit their website, but there is more to it than that. It only takes a phone call to make sure they have the proper licensing for both local and state requirements. You can also verify any professional group associations listed on their website.

Take the time to check references. Ask if there are completed projects you can visit, and then do so. You can also request phone numbers from past clients so you can call and ask how the project went. Ask former clients if the home improvement contractor was on time and on budget and if they were pleased with the results. Just having glowing credentials is not enough. A good contractor should also have solid references.

Interview your final few choices. Ask plenty of questions, and write down the answers. Don’t just assume you’ll be able to keep it all straight in your head. Try to keep it to two or three contractors to keep things as simple as possible. Keep in mind that the contractors themselves should also be asking questions about the potential job at hand.

Make sure the contractor you choose has liability insurance and is fully insured. And once you choose someone, get everything in writing. The bid, payment plan, job specifics, and a list of tasks in the order they should be completed are all important details to include. Don’t forget to include dispute resolution and a waiver of lien. The waiver of lien stops subcontractors and suppliers from putting any sort of lien on your house if the contractor fails to pay their bills. If everything looks good and you believe you have found the ideal contractor for your home improvement project, go ahead and get started. With a signed contract and detailed written plan in hand, your remodel should be well underway in no time.