Choosing the Right Contractor
A home is the biggest investment most people will ever make. Don’t entrust your dream home to just anyone. Be sure to check out the contractor before you hire them.
- Take your time. Most problems occur when consumers fail to investigate the contractors thoroughly before hiring.
- Inquire about the contractor’s Workers Compensation and general liability insurance. They should be adequate to protect you and your property against legal action if an accident occurs on the job site.
- Ask someone who has had work done by the contractor about the contractor’s capability and quality of workmanship.
- Ask to see the contractor’s work. Check for yourself the quality of the work and design.
- Call the local Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs office and Chamber of Commerce. They can alert you to known problems.
- Make sure the contractor has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.
- Incorporate any warranties, guarantees or other promises in your written contract.
- Be specific about starting and completion dates. Some delays are unavoidable and beyond the contractor’s control.
- Be wary of any unusually low bid or low advertised price. If a contractor can’t pay for labor, materials and overhead, you are both in trouble.
- Select a contractor you are comfortable with, one who understands your tastes and needs and with whom you can communicate well.
The Contractor’s Responsibilities
Your home is probably your biggest investment. Poor quality work can reduce the return on your invested dollars. A reputable contractor provides the following services:
- Is responsible for all phases of the job from start to finish-planning, design, labor, materials and scheduling.
- Coordinates all work to avoid costly inconvenient delays.
- Obtains high quality materials and labor, sometimes at lower prices than you would pay because of volume and knowledge of the marketplace.
- Performs work according to specifications, hires competent workers and subcontractors and knows what products provide lasting satisfaction.
- Is familiar with design options, building codes and construction practices.
- Obtains all necessary permits; arranges for required inspection; complies with Social Security, Workers Compensation and other local, state and national regulations that protect the consumer.
- Without a reputable contractor working on your behalf, you would have to assume these responsibilities and financial obligations.
The Consumer’s Role in Construction
As a homeowner, you help ensure that a project goes smoothly when you:
- Designate one person to be the contact with the contractor, keep informed of the job’s progress and answer questions as they arise.
- Make changes to the original contract in writing and specify cost. Verbal change orders can be very costly, cause delays and create misunderstandings.
- Plan your project carefully in order to avoid unnecessary delays.
Evaluating the Contract
Your contract should be easily understood and detailed. It should clearly spell out the responsibilities and the obligations of both parties and should be based on complete plans or specifications prepared by reputable contractors, architects or designers.
The contract should specify:
- Quality and quantity of materials
- Styles and brand names of products.
- A firm price for the work and a payment schedule and whether there is a cancellation policy.
- Any items of work that will not be performed by the contractor.
Read your contract carefully and ask questions.
Beware Of These!
Some warning signs of possible trouble ahead are the following:
- You cannot verify the name, address and telephone number or credentials of the contractor.
- The sales person tries to “high pressure” you into signing a contract by using scare tactics, threats or intimidation.
- The company or salesperson says your home will be used for advertising purposes and that for this, you will receive a special low price.
- The contractor does not comply with your request for references or the references have some reservations about the contractor.
Agencies that Can Help
Contact your County Planning Commission for the number of your township official who can advise you concerning: Ordinances, Regulations, Building Permits, and Sewage System permits. Contact your County Conservation District for information on: Site Selection; Soil Suitability: Depth of Water Table; Flooding Hazard; Protected Wetlands; and Stream Crossing Permits.
This Information is Courtesy of the Endless Mountains Builders Association
The Endless Mountains Builders Association is a non-profit association representing the residential construction industry in the Endless Mountains area. In conjunction with 38 other local associations around the state, they comprise the Pennsylvania Builders Association. Together, the 39 locals have 9,000 member businesses working to assure you of the high quality and up-to-date workmanship for your new home or remodeling project.
These businesses believe their first responsibility is to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for all Pennsylvanians. These businesses strive to incorporate high standards of health, safety and good design in every home and are proud of their relationship with builders association. Hire a professional builder who is a member of a builders association.
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