Hiring a Contractor For Your Home

February 26, 2020
4 min. read time

Avoiding a renovation nightmare.

If you're planning your next renovation/build or this is your first go, choosing top contractors for your project is critical.

Step 1-Vetting a Contractor

  • Properly Licensed- You can check with your local contractors board (Nevada State Contractors Board).
  • Properly Insured - Request a certificate of insurance for the contractor as well as worker's compensation insurance (covering, you, your family and any visitors to your home if they are injured on the work site.
  • Properly Bonded- Read reviews on Better Business Bureau (Even if the individual or company you plan to hire looks legitimate on the BBB website, homeowners should still ask them for proof that they have the necessary licensing, bonding and insurance. Licensing entities vary state to state).
  • Verify permits (if applicable)

Step 2- Get Multiple Contractor Estimates (Apple to Apples)

  • Request a line item bid (listing each item with an estimated price).
  • Stay local! It's more likely the contractors will be familiar with building codes in your area.
  • Be familiar with (allowances, furnish and install, fixture, millwork, specifications or specifics, specific exclusions, standard vs. special, builder hours, hiring subcontractors, etc).
  • Spend time researching (calling suppliers to determine material costs without the markup).
  • Take recommendations from family members friends, neighbors and friends.
  • Require a minimum of 3 references from each contractor.
  • Consider how long it takes to deliver the estimate, this may be an indicator of their reliability  (find a contractor who is keeps to their word).

Step 3- Checking Past Work

  • Check references about the quality of work, products, workmanship and customer service.
  • Research their professional reputation and years in business with the BBB (Better Business Bureau), business website, social media and other reputable resources.

Step 4- Everything in Writing

Make sure your contracts are clear and well written. Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection. Things to look for:

  • A detailed description of the work to be completed and the price of each item (job summary).
  • A payment schedule showing deposit requirements and balance dues upon start/completion of the project.
  • An estimated start date and completion date.
  • Check for applicable guarantees (party responsibilities, validity period, etc).
  • Never sign a contract containing blank sections.
  • If changes are made, acknowledgment must be done in writing.

Step 5- Right to Cancel

Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty.

  • Check with the Federal Trade Commission and the laws of your state to understand your rights.
  • Be sure to follow applicable rules during the cooling off period.
  • If you do cancel, consider sending the notice of cancellation by registered mail to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.
  • Read the FINE PRINT on all contracts

Step 6- Paying Up-Front

  • Don't pay for an entire project before it is completed.
  • Make sure you make checks payable to a company, not an individual, and do not pay in cash.
  • For larger projects, it is standard practice to pay one-third of the estimated costs as an initial payment. That way, you can retain your cashed check as a receipt.

Step 7- Record Keeping

Always keep a paper trail/digital trail of your documents for the entire project. Your file should contain:

  • All contracts
  • Change orders
  • Plans and specifications
  • Bills & invoices
  • Receipts
  • Permits
  • Letters & job notes
  • Correspondences
  • Any other supporting documents

Step 8- Take Your Time

From step one you've been "vetting" contractors and it can be overwhelming but:

  • Don't feel pressured to make an immediate decision to sign a contract
  • Be cautious if asked for a large deposit up front
  • Read the FINE PRINT on all estimates and contracts


Note" This information is provided as a courtesy and is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Contents of this website are subject to change without notice. This content is not intended to replace official resources.