1)Are you licensed? Make sure your contractor is properly licensed. In the State of Delaware, all contractors MUST be either certified by the State (if they have a statewide license), or registered with the State (if they have a countywide license). Anyone can say they are licensed. Make the contractor prove it by either showing you the license or giving you a copy of it. Remember to check the expiration date, and the county if It’s a countywide license. Being licensed is the law. If a contractor cannot produce a valid license, DON’T HIRE HIM!
If you live in a townhouse, villa, or high rise condominium building with four or more
units, only a Building Contractor or General Contractor are permitted to perform remodeling work. Do not hire a Residential Contractor; he would be operating outside of his license. Furthermore, hire a specialty contractor (trim, carpentry, drywall, glazing, aluminum, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, roofing, etc.) to do only the type of work the license specifies.
If you have any questions or doubts, call the Delaware Department of Business and Professional Regulation, or the New Castle County Construction Industry licensing board.
2. Do you carry general liability insurance? Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees. The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing and/or repairing any damage that occurs.
Anyone can say they are insured. Make the contractor prove it by having their insurance company FAX or mail to you a certified copy of his insurance with you named as the certificate holder.
3. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver? Your contractor should provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of the job. This is a legal document, which says you the homeowner have paid the contractor in full for the services rendered and the contractor waives his right to place a mechanic’s lien on your property. If during the course of construction you receive any Notice to Owner documents from material suppliers or sub-contractors, it would be prudent to ask the contractor for a Final Release of Lien from each one prior to paying the contractor his final draw. This protects you in case the contractor doesn’t pay his material suppliers or sub¬contractors after you have paid him in full.
4. Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and NAHB stands for the National Association of Home Builders. It’s always a good idea to consider hiring a NARI or NAHB contractor. In most cases, both organizations only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors. In order to become a member, the contractor’s background and references are thoroughly investigated.
5. Will you pull all the required building permits? Make sure your contractor pulls all required permits. This is very important. When a contractor pulls the required building permits, you know things will be done to “code’. Also, many homeowner’s insurance policies require pulling a permit on any major remodeling to keep your home properly covered. Not all contractors will do this. Many prefer not to pull permits because of the time involved and the “hassle” with the inspectors. Some contractors may ask you to get the permits. This could be a warning sign that they are not able to pull the permit because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside of their license. A reputable contractor will permit every job where a permit is required.
6. Do you guarantee your work? Your contractor should guarantee his work for at least one year from date of completion.
7. Who will be In charge of the Job? Make sure the contractor or his foreman is on the job whenever work is being performed, – especially if sub-contractors will be used. The
responsible party must be intimately familiar with every aspect of your project. If you won’t be home during the construction and must leave the house unlocked, or leave a key with the contractor, you must feel comfortable. You can’t be worried about what is going on when you are not there.
8. Will you provide me with written references? A good contractor will be happy to provide you with references. You should look for a well-established contractor who can
give you several client references from the last 6 months to one year. Ask for the name of the contractor’s accountant or banker. You want to ensure the contractor is financially
sound and won’t be declaring bankruptcy in the middle of your project.
9. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business? When a significant source of a contractor’s business is derived from repeat and referral business, it usually indicates that his clients are pleased with the work they have received.
10. How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year? Your contractor should have experience in the type of remodeling project you want done — not just “contracting experience”