How to Choose a Contractor You Won't Have to Sue

By Andrew Lu on June 29, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Summer is here and it's probably time to take some steps to address the neglected home repairs issues that you ignored all winter.

For most repair jobs and additions, you'll probably have to work with a contractor. While there are a lot of really good contractors out there, there also are a lot of really bad ones. And if you're stuck with a bad contractor, be prepared for months of struggle, stress, and fights.

So how do you choose a contractor that you probably won't have to sue? Here are some tips.

The key to selecting the right contractor is at the interviewing phase. You're giving your contractor a lot of money to work on what is most intimate to you -- your home. So don't feel like you have to hire the first contractor you speak with and never feel pressured or bullied by your contractor. Interview many contractors, find one you are comfortable working with, and ask a lot of questions.

One thing you must make certain to ask is how long the contractor has been in business. If possible, look for a well-established company and check them out with consumer protection officials. They can tell you if there are unresolved consumer complaints on file. Just remember that just because there is no record of complaints, that doesn't necessarily mean there were no previous complaints. Sometimes, the complaint may not have been reported.

Also, make sure that the contractor is licensed, insured, and check to see if the contractor met all the permit requirements for the project. Be wary if the contractor asks you to get the permits yourself as this can mean that the contractor is not licensed or registered.

Finally, ask to see a list of references from your contractor. Most reputable contractors will have three or more references handy from projects similar to yours.

Knowing how to choose the right contractor can mean the difference between a speedy and well done job, and inviting a world of headaches into your home. Make sure you talk to several contractors and remember to ask them the right questions.

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