A home renovation can be exciting but equally stressful project. Any time you open your home to contracted workers that will be tearing apart walls and engaging in potentially hazardous activities like using ladders, power tools, or electrical work you increase the chances for something to go wrong.
Some potential hazards that may occur:
- Uninsured property loss
- Workplace injury or death
- Fabricated workplace injuries
- Abandonment of projects mid-stride
- Fires, flooding or weather-related damage while your home's structure is in a vulnerable state due to construction
Before you hire a contractor, consider these valuable tips to protect you and your home:
- Get referrals from friends, family, and neighbors and check the Better Business Bureau or other reputable online sources for reviews and feedback on the contractor.
- If your state requires residential contractor licensing, check to see if complaints have been filed against the contractor you are considering.
Check to See If You Need a City or County Permit
- Before you begin an addition to your home or any significant improvement, check to make sure you follow your city and county requirements.
Protect Your Assets
• Verify that contractors are licensed and bonded for damage/theft protection and have liability/worker’s compensation insurance. Also, check your homeowner's liability coverage. Your homeowner's policy will usually have general liability insurance, but usually not more than $500,000. This is not usually sufficient general liability coverage to protect you. Your protection in place should equal your current net worth plus the net present value of expected future income. At a minimum, you should have enough to protect your investable net worth.
- Get written estimates from several contractors.
- Don’t assume the lowest bidder is the best choice.
- Ask about differences in price for the same types of work.
Ask For a Written Contract
- Even if your state doesn’t require a contract, insist on getting one.
Know Your Payment Options
- Pay by check or credit card—never cash.
- If needed, arrange for your own financing, through a financial institution you trust.
Limit Your Down Payment
- Some state laws limit the down payment amount that can be requested, so check the requirements in your area.
Stagger Payments Based on Completion of Work
- This approach ensures that if the work is delayed, your payments will be, too.
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