(ARA) - When it comes to sheer potential for relationship disaster, the worst in-laws in the world can't compare to a shady contractor.
Hire a questionable contractor and you could be setting yourself up for serious heartache. Find a contractor you can love and you'll be building the foundation of a lasting, happy relationship -- not to mention the home of your dreams.
But the numbers show that many Americans have difficulty finding reputable contractors. In fact, the Better Business Bureau logged more than 9,600 complaints against contractors in 2006. Of the 3,800 different categories of complaints accepted by the BBB, those against contractors rank lucky 13 in terms of prevalence.
Here are four steps towards building a lasting, happy relationship with a quality contractor:
Run From . . .
Despite the volume of BBB complaints logged against certain contractors, most are honest and operate within the law. The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips for recognizing a contractor who possibly isn't on the up-and-up:
* Beware of signs such as soliciting door-to-door, only accepting cash, not having a listed business number in the local telephone directory, or offering to do your project with materials "leftover" from a previous job.
* Watch out for contractors who want you to obtain required building permits or find them new customers (some will offer discounts if you find them new business).
* If the contractor is offering something that seems too good to be true - like exceptionally long guarantees or offering to do your home as a "demonstration" - it probably is too good to be true.
* Finally, if a contractor pressures you for an immediate decision to hire him, or to borrow money for the project through his preferred lender, you may want to take your business elsewhere.
Check Them Out
Don't hesitate to check out the background of the contractor you're considering for your job; he won't be offended if he has nothing to hide. Likewise, find out if he intends to subcontract some work, and do a background and financial check of those contractors as well. Fortunately, there are a number of resources with information on contractors, from the BBB to Web sites that maintain databases of contractors, such as ContractorCheck.com.
Talk to People Who Already Love Them
During your dating years you probably "checked out" prospective dates by talking to their friends and others who knew them. You need to do the same kind of word-of-mouth research before committing to a contractor. Talk to past clients to determine how reliable, speedy and reasonably priced they think your contractor candidate is. Were they pleased with the work but thought it took too long to complete? Did the contractor deliver on-time and on-budget?
Reputable contractors maintain a list of satisfied contractors who have agreed to act as references. If your potential contractor can't provide the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of past satisfied customers, you may want to ask yourself why he can't.
Get it in Writing
Good contractors will give you a binding estimate in writing. They also won't work without a written contract. The contract should clearly spell out, in easy-to-understand terms, exactly what the project will cost, what will be accomplished and the anticipated time frame for completing the job. Don't hesitate to get an attorney to review the contract before you sign it, especially if you are dealing with a high-price-tag project.
Beware of verbal agreements; as the saying goes, in a court of law, they're often as good as the paper they were written on. Courtesy of ARAcontent