Q: My real estate agent has suggested some home improvements to help me sell my late father’s home faster, since it is very outdated. I am afraid of getting conned and putting out money before I get the money from the sale. How can I make sure the person I hire does the job and doesn’t charge me too much?
A: Here are 10 tips for hiring a remodeling contractor so you won’t get burned:
- Get at least three written estimates.
- Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.
- Check with the Chamber of Commerce for complaints.
- Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done, and how any changes will be handled.
- Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won’t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.
- Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses and insurance.
- Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn’t.
- Ask if the contractor’s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved.
- Guarantee that the materials to be used meet your specifications.
- Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the work.
Be sure you have the contractor agree to clean up after the work — you don’t want to be saddled with the chore of disposing of leftovers. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
Stacey McCarthy is a real estate agent with the McCarthy Group of Keller Williams. Her Real NEastate column appears every Wednesday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEast Philly columns here.