Your home is the most significant financial investment that you will make in your lifetime. The utmost care should be exercised in selecting the right contractor for your remodel, restoration or the construction of your new home. Most licensed Contractors competent, honest, hardworking and financially responsible. However, home improvement projects continue to be a top source of consumer complaints nationwide. Asking a few questions of your potential contractor will significantly reduce the chances of having a bad construction experience. Here are some helpful hints and questions to help you select the right contractor for your project:
Should I choose the lowest bidder?
Your home is the most significant financial investment that you will make in your lifetime. The utmost care should be exercised in selecting the right contractor for your remodel, restoration or the construction of your new home. Most licensed Contractors competent, honest, hardworking and financially responsible. However, home improvement projects continue to be a top source of consumer complaints nationwide. Asking a few questions of your potential contractor will significantly reduce the chances of having a bad construction experience. It is important to remember that the lowest bid does not always represent the best value. Some contractors will use low bids to win the job, then once they are "in the door", they will increase the costs later to get the project completed. More often than not, the contractor with the lowest bid will be compelled to charge you more half way through the project or cut corners on materials, quality and workmanship to complete the project. The best value is represented by the contractor whose quality standards and ethics stand above the rest. In addition to the points that follow, ask yourself these questions:
- With which contractor do I feel comfortable?
- Which contractor inspires my trust?
- Which contractor honors my interests?
- Which contractor stands above the rest?
Should I choose only a contractor that is licensed?
The State of Alaska requires that all General Contractors be licensed. A Residential Endorsement is required for General Contractors that perform work on residential structures. In order to obtain these licenses General Contractors must be bonded, provide proof of Worker's Compensation Insurance and general liability insurance. What are my risks? Generally contractors without licenses do not have them for a reason, which is of great concern. Licensing requires passing written exams on codes and building practices, experience requirements, proof of bonding and proper insurance, as well as many other aspects that prove that they are competent at what they do. If someone is not licensed, there is probably a bad reason that they are not. "Trailboss Solutions, LLC is a licensed General Contractor with Residential Endorsement in the State of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage. AK GC# 32894 /MOA GC # 2723"
Should I choose a contractor that is insured?
Ensure that the Contractor you are considering carries general liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects YOUR home and property from damage or negligence of the contractor, the contractor's employees, and the contractor's sub-contractors that work on your home. A one million dollar policy is the standard of the industry. What are my risks? Significant. If you hire a Contractor that does not carry general liability insurance and something goes wrong you are faced with three choices. (1) To pay for the damages and repairs out of your own pocket (2) to go after the contractor for the costs, which means suing. If a contractor can't afford to carry insurance what are the chances that the company has anything to sue for? You may get a nice $50,000.00 judgment against the company, but how do you collect it from a contractor that does everything illegally anyways and doesn't have anything of value? (3) You will have to ask your homeowners policy to cover it. There is no guarantee of course that they will cover the cost of the damages. Insurance companies do their best to protect themselves by having verbiage in their contract with you that might require you to only hire licensed contractors and prove the work has been properly permitted. Contractors without insurance usually don't follow many of the other rules that insurance companies usually require either. "Trailboss Solutions, LLC is fully insured and carries a general liability insurance policy with limits of $2,000,000.00."
Choose a contractor that "Puts It In Writing"
Insist on a detailed, written "Scope of Work" for your project. This provides, in writing, the details for your project, the work that is to be done, what is included and what is not. Also insist on a detailed, written contract. The contract should be dated and include your name and address, as well as the contractor's name, address, phone number. It should also contain a detailed description of the project, (the scope of work), how changes in the scope of work will be handled, payment schedule, warranty information and notice required for cancellation. The written contract should protect the interests of the homeowner as well as the contractor. Do not choose a contractor that insists on using a contract that only protects the contractor's interests.
Choose only a contractor that guarantees the work
This is a subject that is often overlooked by consumers. Ask about the warranty that is offered by the Contractor and ask for a written copy. Never accept a verbal warranty, a verbal warranty will be worth the paper it is printed on—With nothing in writing you have no warranty. The warranty should clearly note what is covered and what is not and the term of the warranty. A one year warranty is the minimum you should expect, two years is better. "Trailboss Solutions, LLC offers a two year written warranty for all completed projects."
Is your contractor a member of any professional organizations?
Well established companies are affiliated with professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and industry related organizations such as the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), or NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), In all cases, these organizations only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors. Memberships in these organizations require that the contractor's background and references are thoroughly investigated. While a new contractor may not be a member of any professional organizations, it is highly unlikely an established contractor would not be a member of at least one, unless there is a reason that he cannot join." "Trailboss Solutions, LLC is a Member of AHBA (Anchorage Home Builders Association), Affiliate member of the NAHB (Nation Association of Home Builders), Member of NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association)."
How does the contractor work?
One cannot stress enough how important this information can be to you, ask questions such as how do they perform their work, what are the working hours, how will they protect my carpets or other areas of my home that are not affected by the Work, how will the trash and debris be handled, do they work straight through a project? The answers to these questions will give you a clear picture of what type of contractor you are dealing with.
How many projects has the contractor completed that are like yours?
Your contractor should have experience in the type of remodeling project you want done - not just "contracting experience". The more experience a contractor has and the more he specializes in the work you need done the better off you will be. Many contractors dabble in anything that comes their way and never develop expertise in what they are doing. What are my risks? They could be significant and long-lasting. What can be a routine task for a company that is familiar with the work required for your project can be a real problem for one not familiar. This can lead to defective installations that don't show themselves until long after the work is done and sub-par quality. Everything is getting more and more complex in the world we live in, don't put yourself in the position of hiring somebody and paying them while they learn on the job.
Check with the state for any registered complaints or problems
Consult with the Alaska Department of Commerce, Divisions of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.
PO Box 110806 Juneau, AK 99811-0806
PO Box 110806 Juneau, AK 99811-0806
Check with the Better Business Bureau
Consult with the Better Business Bureau for any registered complaints—907.562.0704