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Don’t Let One Disaster Lead to Another: Tips on Selecting a Building Repair Contractor

Repair Contractor Gear

Selecting the Contractor

1. Use your resources.

2. Investigate each contractor’s license, claims, and work history.

    • When was the work performed?
    • Was the contractor timely?
    • Was there a signed contract?
    • Did the contractor provide any guaranties or warranties?
    • Did the homeowner experience any surprises such as increased costs, defective work, or improper materials?
    • How did the contractor handle surprises?
    • How accessible was the contractor during the project?
    • What was the homeowner’s overall opinion of the contractor’s quality of work?
    • Did the contractor need to come back to make repairs?
    • Would the homeowner hire the contractor again?
  • Visit the current jobsites of the contractor to see how the contractor maintains the jobsite, and how the contractor protects the homeowner’s property.
  • Get bid proposals in writing from at least three contractors.  Ask questions regarding large discrepancies between the bid proposals.  Refrain from automatically choosing the lowest bid price.
  • Ask for the contractor’s availability.  If the disaster was widespread, many contractors may be booked for months.  If a contractor is available immediately, this may be a sign that the contractor is not desirable.
  • If the contractor advertises it is affiliated with trade organizations, confirm the membership.

Hiring the Contractor 

1. Put the agreement in writing

  • Make sure you and the contractor agree on the following terms:
    • Permitting
    • Scope of Work
    • Materials
    • Payment Schedule
    • Fixed Price or Time and Materials Pricing
    • Change Orders
    • Start and Completion Dates
    • Confirm that the contractor carries workers’ compensation, property damage, and personal liability insurance.
    • Confirm that the contractor will only hire licensed and insured subcontractors

2. Payments 

  • Pay with traceable means such as credit card or check.
  • Do not pay more than thirty percent up front.
  • Always use joint checks when possible, to avoid liens being filed by the contractor’s subcontractors or material suppliers.

During Construction

1. Document the repairs. 

  • Take photographs before, during, and after repairs.
  • Keep a file of all receipts, invoices, and permits.