How to Hire and Work with a Contractor – Part 1

Sooner or later you may need to hire a contractor to perform maintenance, painting, remodeling, landscaping, or other project. Here are some tips on how to choose a contractor to ensure you get a fair price and are treated fairly during the process.


  • Start by writing down exactly what it is you want the contractor to do and when you want it done. Be specific.


  • Make a list of prospective contractors. Ask friends and neighbors, check the phone book, your local newspaper, or online classified ads like Craig’s List.


  • Meet with the contractors you’ve selected to show them your property and discuss the project in detail. Use your written description of the project to make sure you cover all the points on it with each contractor you meet.


  • If a contractor suggests additional work, ask for his estimate in two parts with the second part covering the additional work he suggests beyond what was on your original project description.


  • Ask exactly who will be doing the work and the extent of the contractor’s personal involvement in your project.


  • For small projects, payment is usually made in full on completion. Larger projects usually require making interim payments on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure you both agree on when interim payments will be made.


  • Get an estimate in writing. Be sure it specifies all labor and materials that may be required. If subcontractors are required, be sure the estimate includes their cost as well.


  • Choose your contractor based on whatever factor you’re most comfortable with: lowest price; reputation; or ‘gut feel’.


  • It’s good business practice for both of you to sign a copy of the estimate and for you to give the contractor a deposit before the project begins. The deposit can be either a flat fee or a percentage of the total estimate amount.


  • Never make full payment for a project up front.


Please let me know by phone or email if I can provide additional tips for dealing with contractors or if I can provide any referrals. I am always happy to help you, your family and friends with any real estate related needs.
Ryan Gillen


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