Choosing the Right Contractor by Marblehead MA General Contractor

August 4, 2009

At James Gilroy House Wright Inc., we understand the significance of your home remodeling project and how critical it is that you choose the right contractor. Before you hire someone, here are the Top 10 Factors to consider, plus an important Bonus Tip:

1. Know your project.
• Have a clear and definite idea in your own mind of the project you want done. What is the scope of your project? Make a list of everything you would like to renovate. For larger renovations, you may need architectural drawings.
• Review home improvement or decorating magazines to find photos of the styles and the look that you want. Look for what styles and types of tile, fixtures, cabinetry and appliances you would like to install and the colors you want to use. The more information you can provide your contractor, the more helpful we can be in building your vision.
• Most importantly, know what your budget is for the project. Read our helpful hints on our “Calculating the Total Cost of Your Project” sheet.

2. Do your homework.
• Be very thorough in researching the contractors in your area. Go on the Internet and through telephone books. Ask friends, family and neighbors about the home remodeling contractors they have used.
• Inquire with the Better Business Bureau to make sure no complaints have been filed. You may want to use contractors that are part of your local chamber of commerce such as the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce. For James Gilroy House Wright, under “Search Category”, select “Building Contractors”.
• Check references (see below).
• It is important to make sure your contractor has business liability and workman’s compensation insurance and is registered with the state (see below).

3. Registration counts.
• Confirm with the state that a contractor is registered. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires contractors to be registered for the Home Improvement Contractors License and to display their six-digit registration number in all advertisements, contracts, and permits. James Gilroy House Wright’s registration numbers can be found on our website, advertisements, permits, and contracts.
• Check for the Home Improvement Contractors Licensees. For James Gilroy House Wright, under the “Businesses” tab, “Select a License Type”, choose “Home Improvement Contractor.” Then type in “James Gilroy House Wright” for “Search by Business Name”.

4. Licensing is critical!
• Contractor licensing and registration is in place to protect the consumer and the public. You have the state on your side — be sure you’re protected. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that any contractor requesting a building permit have a Construction Supervisor License. This license requires the contractor to take a test on their knowledge of MA’s building code and construction practices.
• Check for the Construction Supervisor Licensees. For James Gilroy House Wright, under the “Individuals” tab, “Select a License Type”, choose “Construction Supervisor.” Then type “Gilroy” under “Search by Last Name.”

5. Compare quotes.
• Obtain estimates from more than one contractor. Ideally, you should get at least three quotes, and keep in mind that the cheapest quote isn’t always the best deal. This is another area in which it is important to do your homework. Make sure you look at the whole package — for example, is a warranty included? Also, confirm with the contractor(s) that they are bidding on ALL parts of your project and that the prices they have provided are “apples to apples.”

6. Check references.
• Call the references and check out the already completed work of the contractors you’re considering. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but you’re better off actually speaking with former clients and checking out the contractors’ work for yourself.
• Ask references about whether they had any services issues, whether the project was done on time and within the budget (Were there any hidden costs?), and the contractor’s cleanliness level (Did they clean up after themselves and remove their trash?). Be very wary if a contractor is reluctant to give you references!

7. Consider your contract carefully.
• Make sure you ALWAYS get a written contract — don’t rely on verbal promises.
• As soon as you receive a copy of your contract, read it thoroughly. Everything you discussed with the contractor should be included, particularly the costs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if there is anything in the contract that is unclear. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions.
• Don’t succumb to signing pressure (a good contractor won’t pressure you anyway), and by all means, NEVER sign a blank or incomplete contract. Once the contract has been signed by both you and the contractor, you should get a copy of it for your records.
• Want to know what your contractor’s contract should contain? We are happy to show you what House Wright’s contract looks like, including the basic terms and conditions.

8. Check on whether the contractor is insured.
• If your contractor is not carrying insurance, it may cost you! To protect you and your home, the contractor should have (and show you) certificates of general liability and Workman’s Compensation insurance coverage, obtained from an insurance agent and containing your name and address. The effective dates for the insurance coverage should be clear on the certificates.
o Liability Insurance
Protects your property in case of accidental damage during your project. The contractor should have a minimum of $500,000 to $1 million insurance coverage, depending on the scope of your project.
o Workman’s Compensation Insurance
Covers the medical, hospital and time-off expenses of any workers who are injured during the project. This insurance protects you from being sued by these workers.
• The Commonwealth of Massachusetts doesn’t require contractors to be insured, however most towns in the Commonwealth will ask for proof of insurance when a contractor pulls a building permit.

9. Make sure the contractor obtains the proper building permit(s).
• A building permit is required for any home remodeling project (including adding a deck) and any work involving a contractor. A permit is not necessary for roofing, siding and window replacement and other minor repairs. You can be fined by the town and the project can be stopped if your contractor does not have the necessary permit(s). Building permit regulations differ from town to town, so check with your local building inspector on what the regulations are in your town.
• As mentioned above, the contractor needs a construction supervisor license to obtain a building permit. Unfortunately, there are contractors who try to circumvent regulations by obtaining a permit with the “rented” license of another, less-than-ethical contractor, or by asking the homeowner to obtain the permit. Homeowners are only allowed certain permits on their primary residence and only when doing the work themselves. Therefore, if a homeowner obtains a permit and allows another person (a contractor) to perform the work for pay, they are disqualified from participation in the Commonwealth’s Guaranty Fund, which is available to protect them from this same group of unscrupulous contractors.

10. Once your project has started, keep records of everything.
• Maintain files of all the documents pertaining to your project, including the copy of your contract with the contractor, the building permit(s), all receipts, proof of insurance, etc. Keep these files organized and in one place so that it is easy to find a specific document if you need it.

BONUS TIP: Ultimately, after all of the above have been considered, you want to go with your gut.
• When you select a contractor, you are inviting them and their crew into your home. You are entering a relationship that is (hopefully) a professional, working partnership. We highly recommend that you work with someone who you feel you can trust and who will work with you to minimize the stress of a renovation.
• The comfort you feel in being able to communicating and work with your contractor is priceless. So if you feel uncomfortable with a contractor (even if you don’t know why), follow your instincts and use someone else.
• We believe that a contractor should care about you and your project, treat your home as if it were their own, build the finest quality work at the best price possible, understand your concern about cost, and always return your phone calls in a timely manner. At James Gilroy House Wright, we pride ourselves on delivering this level of service.

This blog is brought to you by James Gilroy House Wright Inc. We’re an exceptional builder, not your average general building contractor. We focus on serving clients in Marblehead, Salem, Swampscott, Lynn, Nahant, and Beverly, MA. We are happy to discuss your project with you. You can call us at 781-639-4868 or contact us from this website for a FREE estimate.


One Response to “Choosing the Right Contractor by Marblehead MA General Contractor”

  1. Raine on October 12th, 2015 7:26 am

    Don’t use flat paint, I’t grows mold really easy. I used to own a patnniig busines. We always used semi gloss or gloss paint for the bathrooms. I saw some one else recomend Behr paints from Home dept, My advice is not to use it. I found it required a lot of extra prep and even mutiple coats to get good coverage. I like the look of the bathroom walls and ceiling the same color.Good luck

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