If you’re going to hire someone to do home repairs, take care to find a reliable company or individual. Ask people you know to refer you to a contractor, or call the local office of codes enforcement, builders association, Chambers of Commerce, or Better Business Bureau. In North Carolina, jobs of $30,000 or more require a General Contractor’s license.
Find a contractor familiar with the type of work you need and ask to see some past work. If this is not possible, ask for references from previous jobs the contractor has done.
The contractor needs to be insured. Insurance should include comprehensive policies that protect his or her business and your home, including public liability, property damage protection, and workers’ compensation. The contractor also should warranty damage that might become evident in the year after completion.
Ask for written quotes with all details from three different bidders. Make certain all are bidding on the exact same job. Remember, the lowest price is not always the best one. There may be a misunderstanding of the nature of the work being quoted, a mistake in the quote, or differences in the quality of workmanship and materials. All the details and agreements about the job must be written down.
- Include the building plans and/or specifications in the contract.
- Specify the start and finish dates in the contract to protect your interests, but realize that bad weather, availability of materials, or other problems may affect these dates.
- Have a lawyer review all contracts and related documents before you sign, if possible (especially for large projects).
- The contract should specify terms for payment. There may be terms for making a series of payments throughout the project, such as after each inspection is made and passed. Don’t make a large first payment, and don’t pay for the project in full until work has been completed and after an approved final inspection.
- Describe the work to be done. This should include a detailed description of the materials and grades to be used as well as the repairs to be made.
- Include all financing information required by state and federal laws.
- List the name and address of contractor and your name and address.
- Clearly state any warranties or guarantees on the work.
- Be sure both you and the contractor sign the agreement, with each of you keeping original copies.
Never sign a completion certificate until all work is satisfactorily done. Also, never pay a contractor or workman in full for work before it is done. The contract should specify the payment schedule. There is a Homeowner’s Recovery Fund that went into effect October 1991. Its purpose is to provide some amount of monetary assistance to homeowners who have suffered a reimbursable loss resulting from the dishonest or incompetent conduct of a licensed general contractor. There are specifics that must be followed when applying, including having won a judgment against a contractor. Information can be obtained at:
North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors
PO Box 17187
Raleigh, NC 27612
For More Information
For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center.
Publication date: June 5, 2014
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