Hiring a contractor, part 2: Dating your contractor

Feb 27, 2015, 1:00 AM

Last week, in part 1 of this series, I went through the “vitals” that need to be taken when looking to hire a contractor.

As you noted, the vitals are a
straight-forward factual checklist of information to collect. But in addition to the vitals, and to get to know your contractor really, really well, I
strongly recommend dating, or courting, the contractors you’re considering.

It’s imperative to do this before you sign their contract — and in essence
marry them!

Here are the key things to consider as you put them through Rosie’s Dad Tests:

1. The Clock Test – From the first meeting you make with the contractor, put them on the clock. The interview process will likely take a couple of meetings with each candidate. Are they on time, every time? Certainly, traffic and delays can happen here and there, but if it’s happening
consistently with the same candidate, take caution — it’s likely a red flag.

2. The Preparedness Test – Is the contractor prepared each and every time you meet? Are they coming back to each meeting with the answers
you asked at the last one? Do you feel like all your questions are being answered to your satisfaction? Good contractors are well prepared and knowledgeable.

3. The Organization Test – How organized does the contractor appear to be? Is their paperwork and presentation in order? What kind of job
scheduling software do they use — and how will it help ensure you’re project is on deadline and on budget? In the end, if they aren’t organized, how well
organized do you think your project is going to be?

4. The References 2.0 Test – Beyond talking to their list of past client references (which you should always do),
you can ask to see a list of contractor’s suppliers and subcontractors. If a supplier or subcontractor appears on one or more of your candidates lists, you
can always call them and ask them for who they’d consider hiring themselves! Beyond this, be sure to speak to current clients with projects in progress. Ask them about what they’re experiencing today, and if it matches their expectations. Would they
consider hiring them again in the future based on their experience? Why? Or why not? These extra reference tests can be very enlightening.

5. The Estimate Test – If, at this point, you are feeling good about the candidate, now you’re ready to ask for an estimate. We tell EVERY
homeowner the following items should be included:

a. A complete and detailed work description – INCLUDING the work that is not included or considered “out-of-scope”;

b. A project schedule;

c. A payment plan (Note: Progress payments are standard, but use caution. Allowing your contractor to get way ahead of your project financially when
compared with the progress made can open you up to difficult problems down the road.);

d. 24-hour contact information for your contractor; and,

e. A termination clause on how to stop this project, should things go bad.

6. The “Gut” Test – When it’s down to a couple candidates and you’re ready to move forward, my final advice to you is this: With every
home improvement project, there will inevitably be a day or two that are disappointing and may not be going exactly as planned — like the color of product
being delivered is wrong, or an inspection didn’t go well the first time. Thinking about that day in the future ask yourself — “Who do you want walking up
to house to fix and get everything back on track?”

Listen to that inner voice — it was given to us for a purpose.

Rosie on the House works hard each week to be every Arizona homeowner’s best friend. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, the contractors in
our referral network meet all the qualifications outlined in part 1 and even exceed the high standards outlined in this article. If it isn’t done “Rosie
right” with someone on our network — then you can bank on the fact, that I make it right. Personally.

You can find our screened and approved contractors, advice and do-it-yourself tips, for your house, home, castle or cabin, at every Arizona homeowner’s
best friend: Rosie on the House. Be sure to tune in to KTAR every Saturday
morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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Hiring a contractor, part 2: Dating your contractor