Many of homeowners have hired contractors to do remodeling or improvements on their home only to find out the final cost did not match the original quote. Here are some tips to avoid this problem.
Hiring a contractor to do work on your home is not always as easy as it sounds. Many people call themselves contractors, but really are not. The first step to avoiding problems is to make sure you hire someone who understands your vision.
Most contractors are ethical, honest people and businesses. There are, however, some who are not. These individuals assume you do not really know what is involved in the construction process. This provides them with an opening to make more profit. (Read more about competitive bidding) While you might think this means they will overbid the project, it does not. Most contractors believe you will pick the lowest price, so they rarely run up their estimate. There are, however, two other ways to boost profit.
The first thing some contractors will do is use low quality supplies. As with anything you buy, there is a high quality and lower quality version. While you may want the high-quality version, you may have a hard time determining if you received it. The difference between high and low quality is often how long something lasts, not how it appears. The way to beat this problem is to specify the exact brand, size and part number [if possible] in your contract. Doing so accomplishes two things. First, it puts the contractor on notice that you know how the process works. Second, you can always resort to legal action if you later find the correct materials were not used. Since you have everything in writing, the contractor has little defense.
A second tactic is the bait and switch. In this process, the contractor gives you a bid price that can’t possibly cover the project. You think you are getting a deal, but the contractor starts coming to you after the project has started requesting more money. The contractor refuses to continue work if you do not pay up. In this situation, the best defense is again to have everything in writing in the project contract. Make sure to include an attorney’s fee clause in it. If the contractor tries this tactic, you should contact an attorney. The attorney will set the contractor straight. If the contractor refuses to finish the job, you will probably be told by the attorney to hire a new contractor while he sues the unethical one. Since an attorney’s fee clause is included in the agreement, you should end up paying no legal fees. This is not the best situation, but it beats getting scammed.
The process we use is called a PSA (Professional Service Agreement) this allows our clients to sit down and go through a line by line process of what is going into the project. This process starts by us giving the client a range of cost to see if this project fits into their budget. Once determined the client will sign an agreement (PSA) so that we can an exact price for the project based off design and material needed to complete the vision of the client. The amount of the PSA will come off the top of the 1st payment for the project. This does two important things. First it allows the client to understand where the cost is coming from and second it eliminates 99% of all extra work orders.
In general, the best way to find a contractor is to ask for referrals from trusted friends. Next, get everything in writing. With these three steps, you should avoid any major problems.