Posted by: phillipsre | April 18, 2013

Finding a Good Contractor

A few years ago, I needed a plumbing repair on a kitchen sink in one of our rentals. I had a list of plumbers to call however, no one could make it out to the rental for a couple of days. On top of that, the repair cost for a split hose in the sprayer was unexpectedly high.  I was very dissatisfied with the whole experience. In order to avoid this in the future I came up with some tips on how to hire a vendor/contractor.

contractorsChoose your vendor/contractor before you need them. Why? Because if you have an emergency repair and need to find someone quickly (who is also licensed and will perform to expectations at a fair cost) you won’t have time to go through a lengthy selection process. The WORST thing you can ever do is pick someone from the Yellow Pages without any background knowledge of their qualifications and billing practices.

When choosing a vendor/contractor start with a referral. There are many places you can find a referral. The best place to look would be from RHA’s Service Directory located in each edition of Update or on RHA’s website.  Another place to find a referral would be from other owners and managers who attend RHA events.

Before you hire a vendor/contractor ensure they are licensed, bonded and insured. In order to ensure a vendor is bonded you can check with the state and pay attention to the bond and license expiration dates.  You can ask the contractor for a copy of their insurance, to confirm they carry current general liability insurance. 

Business Longevity. When you can find a vendor/contractor who has been doing business for over 10 years under the same business name – you probably have a very good vendor. That’s not to say that a new craftsman can’t provide the same level of skill but it is something that could help you make an informed decision when selecting a vendor.

Meet with the contractor. When you meet the vendor/contractor look for “chemistry” or rapport between you and them and observe their level of professionalism. Courtesy, respect, punctuality and the ability to communicate are some of the most important attributes a contractor/vendor can have next to their basic competency.  Actually, no matter how good someone is, if they don’t click with you on these points, don’t hire them.   It is also important that the contract respect their work area, which is often a renter’s home, by leaving it secured and clean.

Ensure any contract you sign represents exactly what the contractor told you verbally. It should include a detailed scope of work which will be performed and a schedule through anticipated completion.  Does the contractor offer a guarantee or does the product manufacturer offer a warranty for the work or product application? If so, make sure to get it writing as well. The contract should also specify what the payment arrangements are. You shouldn’t pay more than 30% of project cost up-front and final payment should not be required until completion of the job, and preferably wait to send payment after you have inspected workmanship.  Timely payment from your end will help the vendor relationship strengthen.

Good luck with your next repair or project.  I hope these tips help you to plan ahead for a more successful end result.

Written by: Julie Johnson, Director, Phillips Real Estate Services, Residential Group

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