5 tips before you sign the contract

So you’ve finally chosen your contractor. Truth is, most of us decide on a whim because we’re not expert on these things. We just trust and accept what people tell us. You can protect yourself by following these simple guidelines when awarding a project to a contractor.

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1. Remain skeptic & ask weird questions.

Yes, your contractor was referred to you by a close friend but you’re not the contractor’s friend. Truth is most of us don’t know much about repairs and we tend to trust the next person beside us. While most doesn’t have much option, it’s wise to pretend you know much and questions.

If you are having a home renovation, do a little research on walls, paints and ask simple questions like “will gypsum board be better than hollow concrete?” You don’t have to be an expert, but you can pretend to be like one. A contractor will likely reconsider overpricing you if you appear you know what’s happening.

2. Act-out and stick to the plan

It’s hard to stay focus especially if you don’t draft a 3D design. A change in job order can increase your budget dramatically so take caution. Review your plans at least 5 times before making the final decision. Share your thoughts and ideas, better yet – ask a second opinion from an expert.

Stand on the spot where you plan to make repairs or renovation and try to imagine it’s done. If it’s a kitchen extension, pretend you’re cooking or chopping vegetables. You never know what thoughts come out when you try to act-out on it.

3. Never pay before work starts

A trustworthy contractor asks for progress payments. This means you never pay in advance but only based on the completed phase. Usually, your contract will ask for 20% payment for the first week, 20% succeeding and final payment upon completion.

A reputable contractor has a credit line from their suppliers. If he asks for advance payment to buy materials, think twice! We’ve heard of horror stories of contractors who instead of purchasing the material use the money for personal use. Contractors can easily walk away with an unfinished project – they just move on to another victim from another town.

4. Make a contract with retaining fee.

Never trust anyone – especially friends or relatives. The people who will likely hurt us are those near us. It’s a weakness everyone shares because we’re comfortable with people we trust. Business is business and a contract will go a long way.

A “retaining fee” is at least 10% of your total contract price that you don’t settle until at least 30 days after the work is done. This gives you time to test the repairs or check for faults. The contractor will remedy problems, knowing there’s still money. This is a standard practice and if a contractor resist this clause – change your contractor!

5. Lastly, you buy peanuts – you get peanuts

The customer is always right but be realistic. If you ask for too much discount, expect inferior materials or a shabby finish. If you think you’re being overpriced, a survey or comparison from 2 other contractors will settle this.

A contractor who dives its price more than 20% less in comparison with other contractors will likely do a bad job. In the end, you will likely spend more within the next few years.

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