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Front Page - Friday, August 30, 2019

How to find a contractor who is right for you

Many homeowners in the Chattanooga area are making improvements to their houses to increase their comfort and usability and boost their value. If you’re considering making upgrades, additions, or renovations to your home, you’ll first need to hire a qualified contractor.

Research and preparation are key to finding the best contractor to get the job done. To help find a contractor who’s right for you and to avoid problematic partnerships, consider the following tips:

Recommendations and research

Ask friends or family for referrals of professionals who have successfully completed home improvement projects. Secure at least three names to give yourself options.

Online reviews can be helpful in determining the quality of work completed by contractors. Google, Yelp and Angie’s List aggregate anonymous reviews of contractors. The Better Business Bureau will have information on business complaints and licensing.

Thoroughly interview each contractor. Have they completed a project similar in size and scope? Are they insured? Will they secure the necessary permits to complete the job? Do not end the interview without asking for several references you can contact.

Find professional contractors in the Chattanooga area by searching the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga online directory at www.HBAGC.net.

Communication and contracts

Only contracts need to be signed, not estimates. Do not sign an estimate, as it might be a binding contract.

You must have a contract. A professional will provide a contract that clearly outlines the type of job, process and costs. Do not work with a contractor that accepts only verbal agreements about the job you need completed.

Communication with a qualified professional once the contract is signed should not end there. Connect with your contractor regularly, especially if it’s a big project. It’s easier to troubleshoot issues with your project if you identify and discuss them immediately.

Pricing and payments

A special pricing offer or a significantly lower price than other contractors is a red flag. Also, if your contractor can start right away – in other words, he or she isn’t that busy – hire someone else.

Many professional contractors will ask for a deposit toward materials. This type of deposit should be paid once a contract is signed by both you and the contractor. Illegitimate contractors will ask for cash or full payment before starting the job. Don’t do it.

Know exactly what you are paying for. Ask contractors you’re interviewing to provide a complete breakdown of costs. Look for materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses.

Only make the final payment once you’re satisfied with the work and have copies of the material receipts and lien releases from the contractor and any subcontractors.

Completing a home project can be rewarding with the right contractor. To find a professional in the tri-state area who can help, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at www.HBAGC.net.