Top 5 in Real Estate Network® Members are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date, helpful real estate information. This monthly newsletter, "Real Estate Matters," offers articles on a range of topics that will inform you in your real estate pursuits.

Hiring a Contractor? Do This First

Nothing is more exciting than embarking on a home renovation project! Hire the wrong contractor, however, and your dream remodel can quickly turn into a nightmare.

That’s why it’s essential to do your due diligence when hiring a contractor, such as getting multiple estimates before signing a contract. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), when you get multiple bids, you can learn a great deal about the proposed project, such as what type of work is needed, the quality of the building materials, how long the job may take and the total cost.

The BBB offers these other tips to help find the best, most ethical contractor to work with and ensure a successful home renovation:

- First, check bbb.org - BBB’s business profiles can tell you how long the contractor has been in business, as well as provide contact information, verified customer reviews, complaint details and how the business responded.

- Be wary of ‘today-only’ sales pitches - This is a sales tactic designed to get you to sign a contract or put down a deposit, without giving you the opportunity to do your research. Watch out for these and other ‘bargains’ that rush you into a deal.

- Get references from recent customers - Speak with other property owners who had work done recently, and ask what they did or did not like about a particular contractor. A reputable contractor will be happy to provide client references.

- Get everything in writing - Make sure all verbal promises end up in the written contract as well as a detailed description of the work, the cost of materials and start and completion dates. Contracts also should include specifics about the deposit and payment schedule and guarantees for the quality of work and materials.

- The contract should specify required permits - Renovation work often requires permits from the town or municipality. If you’re contractor suggests going without permits, it might be a sign they have a poor reputation at city hall.

- Compare apples to apples – Choosing a prospective contractor is simpler if you ask for quotes based on the number of hours needed and the same quality of materials.

- Avoid putting down a large deposit - A typical payment schedule should follow the “rule of thirds.” The first payment is given when signing the contract and helps pay for materials, the second payment when work begins, and the final payment when the job is finished and you are satisfied with the quality of work. Ask the builder to walk you through the work to explain what has been done.

By sticking to the above steps, you’ll head into your renovation with peace of mind, knowing you’ve done your homework and taken the necessary steps to select the best possible contractor.

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