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Old 04-19-2008, 12:19 AM   #1
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Hiring a contractor


Hi,
I am a first time home owner and I have come across a project where I need to hire a contractor.

When hiring a contractor, how does the process work?

I have already gotten 2 quotes and have another guy coming, but when the time comes to hire one, does the contractor usually have a contract in writing for the job or is that the homeowners responsibility?

How do most contractors get paid (how much up front, how much when the job is 50%...etc) Is it standard to hold back a certain amount (10%?) for 30 days, or maybe longer??

Any other info anyone has is greatly appriated...

Also...FYI
The job is reletively small-2 or 3 days to redo/repair concrete stairs...

Thanks!!

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Old 04-19-2008, 06:46 AM   #2
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The contractor should have a detailed contract for you
Often it can be 10% to schedule work, 30% to start, 30% at the 1/2 or other benchmark, and 30% upon completion
This can vary by trade and job
Your job, being a few days, may be more of a deposit and completion thing
I have heard of the holding back 10% thing as suggested by how-to articles, but honestly have not seen or heard of that in reality
I would not do that nor does anyone I know
I suspect it's a commercial type thing for huge projects

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Old 04-19-2008, 07:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmat1980 View Post
...does the contractor usually have a contract in writing for the job or is that the homeowners responsibility?
As Slick stated, the contractor bares the responsibility to write the contract and submit it to the client. (FWIW: In my state, that is the law).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmat1980 View Post
How do most contractors get paid (how much up front, how much when the job is 50%...etc) Is it standard to hold back a certain amount (10%?) for 30 days, or maybe longer??
In my state, the law requires no more than 1/3-1/3-1/3.

I strongly urge you not to even "consider" holding back 10% for even a minute, let alone 30 days or longer. In 25 years, no home owner has even suggested that to us. It's rather insulting. It just doesn't happen in the field. The job gets done, it is done right, there is no reason to hold back anything when the project is completed. Contract warranties cover any possible issues that could arise with the work. When you go to the store and buy something, a car, or what have you, you pay the full price for your purchase. I don't suggest that you try and hold back 10% for those things either.

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Originally Posted by jmat1980 View Post
The job is reletively small-2 or 3 days to redo/repair concrete stairs...
With a job that small, often contractors will simply ask to be paid when the job is done, or ask for a sum to cover the cost of the materials to be purchased, with the balance at the end of the project. (FWIW: We usually just invoice at the end of small jobs like that)

Lastly, check references for similar work. Some things you should want to know about are: quality of work, promptness-(being on time, starting on time, finishing on time) cleanliness, client satisfaction of the experience, accomodating to the client, warranty for work, etc.
You can even ask to look at previous work performed.
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Old 04-19-2008, 01:33 PM   #4
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I am not sure where you are located, but CA has some pretty good info on their website:

CA State License Board

They suggest the initial down payment be 10% or $1,000 - whichever is less

Last edited by Git; 04-19-2008 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 04-19-2008, 05:35 PM   #5
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Also:

Licensing and Registration: .....with the state (if there is licensing in your area) Pretty much every state requires registering.

Insurance: Any decent contractor has liability and workman's comp.
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Old 04-19-2008, 08:14 PM   #6
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I always recommend that people actually go visit the work a contractor has done. You'll get to see the quality -- or lack of -- and may get an earful (good or bad) from their previous customers. Always get a contract and make sure it is specific -- type of wood, who supplies the tile, etc.
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:27 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies...

I got 2 quotes already but I had to call 6 people to get those 2 quotes. 2 were supposed to show up, but didn't...not exactly the people I want to hire if they cant show for the first "interview"...oh well...Ill keep calling some people, but thanks for all the advice...


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btw, the state is NJ
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmat1980 View Post
Thanks for all the replies...

I got 2 quotes already but I had to call 6 people to get those 2 quotes. 2 were supposed to show up, but didn't...not exactly the people I want to hire if they cant show for the first "interview"...oh well...Ill keep calling some people, but thanks for all the advice...


jmat1980

btw, the state is NJ
Generally, most contractors don't like the idea of taking time (time = $) out of their day to look at a job if: they know/they are told/ or they feel.......that a person is "possibly" ..... just using them to do "price shopping" (using their price, in order to compare it, to several +, other prices).

Something for Home Owners to consider when scheduling estimate appointments.
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
Generally, most contractors don't like the idea of taking time (time = $) out of their day to look at a job if: they know/they are told/ or they feel.......that a person is "possibly" ..... just using them to do "price shopping" (using their price, in order to compare it, to several +, other prices).

Something for Home Owners to consider when scheduling estimate appointments.
LOL...If they dont want to "take time out of their day" to look at it, thats their problem...If they think i'm just price shopping that is half right, i'm also looking for additional opinions on the job.

Some of these contractors think they are running the show. For instance I had a guy that was supposed to come on Sat AM for a quote. He didnt show and he called me on Sun. I told him to forget it. If he cant show up for a quote what is he going to do once he has 30% of my money...

If contractors dont want to come out for a quote how are they supposed to get any jobs?? I assume the ones that wont come are looking for the stupid consumer who will hire the first person they talk to so that they can just screw them over...
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Old 04-21-2008, 02:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmat1980 View Post
LOL...If they dont want to "take time out of their day" to look at it, thats their problem...If they think i'm just price shopping that is half right, i'm also looking for additional opinions on the job.

Some of these contractors think they are running the show. For instance I had a guy that was supposed to come on Sat AM for a quote. He didnt show and he called me on Sun. I told him to forget it. If he cant show up for a quote what is he going to do once he has 30% of my money...

If contractors dont want to come out for a quote how are they supposed to get any jobs?? I assume the ones that wont come are looking for the stupid consumer who will hire the first person they talk to so that they can just screw them over...
If a contractor sets a time with you to come out and look at the job, and they never show up, or show up hours late with no call...that is just plain rude and down-right wrong. I wouldn't even want to do business with them.

Now, on the other hand, if they are busy enough that they can pick and chose the jobs they are willing to invest any time into, then more power to them.
There are many very talented and successful contractors out there that can, and are ... doing that. Home owners line up to find them.
(It still doesn't give them the right to "blow-off" home owners, that they have an appointment with)

My point is to the effect that home owners need to also see the "other side of the coin".

When a very busy contractor is called to come out and look at a job (to offer an estimate for work), they are generally, more than eager to do so, provided they are not overbooked already.
However, if a very busy contractor "gets the impression", "perceives", or is flat out "told".....that they are "one of many" contractors, that a home-owner has contacted in order to "price-shop"....they won't be eager to come out.

If you as a home owner, are truly eager to get the three reliable, trustworthy and experienced quotes, be careful what you say over the phone, and NEVER schedule contractors to be there "around" or even "close to" the same appointment time.
Remember that the Good contractors are the ones that are busy. The ones that are slow, and can "hop" to a snap of fingers are slow for a reason. I don't know about you, but I, as a fellow home owner, would only want a good contractor working on my home.

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