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What’s In Store When You Restore: Finding A Contractor You Can Trust

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

One of the best ways to start investing in real estate is by taking the plunge and buying your own home. But, many new homes these days may be out of your financial price range. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or couldn’t attain one.

In fact, one of the hottest trends is buying an affordable fixer upper and doing the work yourself. But, keep in mind that even handy types will (at some point) require the assistance of a professional; which means you’ll have to find one that won’t cost you what you saved on the purchase of the house, one that knows what he’s doing and one you can trust. And, that can be a challenge and a job in itself.

Here are a few expert suggestions about how to find a fabulous “handyman”.

1. d Of Mouth:t of us trust the opinions of our friends and family, which is why we ask them for their recommendations. Yet, experts suggest that since no two homes or jobs are exactly alike and that what your contractor needs to know may vary, you may need to dig a little deeper. Keep in mind that industry professionals deal with “specialists” regularly and are probably your best source for recommendations. And, if recommended professionals are too busy to take on your job, simply ask them for another suitable referral and replacement.

2. ting Professionals To The Test:’t just rely on word or mouth (even from the pros) or what you see (after all you’re not a pro), but rather rely on names and number of at least three to five previous and current clients, who had similar work done. Remember, asking for specific references makes it more difficult for a contractor to give you only his best or most satisfied clientele. And, you’ll want to make sure you ask the following questions:

· What was most pleasing or displeasing about your contractor?

· Was the contractor true to his word and estimate?

· Was the job completed on time and was it done neatly and to your expectations?

· Would you use his services again?

3. lifying Candidates:ore you get too attached to someone’s work or personality, you should check to see if the candidate you are considering is qualifies to do the job. You’ll need to make sure he is properly insured and licensed, information you can obtain by contacting your county offices and asking about your contractor’s credentials. Experts recommend professionals have at least $1million in general liability insurance and make sure to get and keep a copy of license and insurance for your records.

4. k For Your Perfect Match:h like finding a mate, you’ll need to find a contractor who shares your philosophy and who you like and get along with. Remember, if you’re the type that needs to have a hands on approach, you don’t want to deal with someone who will be insulted by your input, help and suggestions. Discuss such issues up front and make sure your compatible in your approaches before signing on the dotted line.

5. ument The Deal:sure to put all the specifics in writing including a written estimate and a list of the materials, what will be done, the (anticipated) start date, and the (expected) completion date. You may even want to get it notarized.

Remember, once you sign, it’s likely your contractor will expect a 10 to 30 percent down payment with the remaining balance paid in increments as various aspects of the job are completed. However, professionals suggest holding on to the final 10 percent until final details meet your approval.

And, the cite the following as a reason to reconsider canceling a contractor’s services and using someone else:

· The contractor refuses to put details in writing.

· He suggests that the final cost may exceed his estimate (though experts suggest that a 10 percent cushion) is reasonable and expected, but don’t forget or hesitate to ask for receipts.

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