With cooler weather approaching now is the time to tackle home-improvement projects. This is the season for installing decks, ensuring your roof if in good condition and maybe even other things such as installing in-ground swimming pools and other nice features. Autumn remodeling often has bargain-pricing, but choosing the right contractor for the job is truly an important task. Prior to becoming a licensed Real Estate Agent and Broker, I used to be a California General Building Contractor. I have worked with many professionals and seen some licensed who were not so professional as well.

Hire only licensed contractors! No matter how big or small the project is, hiring a contractor means giving a stranger access to your home and, in some cases, even putting the safety of your family into their hands as well as those they may employ and sub-contract. Home-improvement complaints are among the most common consumer concerns. Therefore you need to be on the lookout for red flags before you sign any contract.

Get Recommendations! Contractors build their customer base through referrals more than through any form of advertising. If you are looking for a contractor for a specific project, you probably know someone who can point you in the right direction. However, sometimes a recommendation is not enough. When you interview a potential contractor, ask for references. Professionals who cannot demonstrate that they deliver on their promises are not worth your consideration.

Ask for a detailed estimate! Once you have contacted the contractor’s references and are ready to begin a project, ask for a detailed project specification, including the price, materials, estimated completion time, work stages, and contingency plans. Contingency plans are important, because unfortunately projects rarely occur exactly as planned. You need to know in advance what the contractor will do if, for example, a need for repair arises before the original project is completed.

Require Insurance! Whenever you hire a professional to work on a home-improvement or -repair project, he or she must be insured adequately. Consider requiring proof of accident insurance that covers up to one million dollars in damage. If a contractor is not insured, you assume the risk should something go wrong.

Make sure their employees are safe, legal and trustworthy as well! You should also be assured that those employed with their company are legally able to be doing so, as well as ensure that they have employees that have passed background checks. If even one of their employees hurts one of your family members or steals from you, it is one too many.

Get the Required Permits! To secure your interests, you as the homeowner need to request any necessary building permits. Occasionally a contractor agrees to obtain the necessary permits, does not do so, and then the homeowner is caught in the middle of a legal dispute. Many localities now require that homeowners make all the permit applications themselves. This protects the homeowner. Never make the permits someone else’s responsibility.

Hire the Best Contractor for Your Project! A carpenter may build excellent decks, but he or she probably will not be the best contractor for installing central air-conditioning. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to hire a plumber to re-wire your garage! When you are searching for a contractor, be sure to find a specialist. Some general contractors are equipped to handle nearly any home-improvement or -repair project, but they tend to overcharge and then outsource the work to sub-contractors. Find out who their sub-contractors are and contact them yourself, if possible. This could not only save you cash, but also the provide peace of mind of knowing that you have selected the right person or company for the job.

If you are considering a remodeling, repair or other home-improvement project this autumn, take your time and start planning now for a successful project. By following these tips for selecting a contractor, you will demonstrate your mastery of the art of finding the right person for the job.

Home improvements are – and should be – exciting, particularly when you are a new homeowner. Just don’t end up regretting your selection of the contractor.

Most real estate brokers and agents like to look out for their clients’ interests. Helping you select a contractor is just one of the many ways they can help you with your home-improvement projects.

For more tips and to check out whether or not prospective contractors are in fact licensed, please make sure to visit your state specific website regarding contractors, such as this one if you are in California at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/Consumers.aspx first before making your selection.

For any other questions please look over my website at www.USAHouses.com or feel free to send me an email or give me a call.