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Hiring a Residential Contractor

So you’ve decided to update your home, but you’re not exactly sure what the next step is, or where to turn.  For most people, finding the right general contractor can be a daunting task.  Knowing what to look for and what questions to ask, can save you time and money.

These days, in order to become a licensed residential contractor in Georgia, one must meet the certain state requirements.  Some of the requirements included are proof of experience, proof of insurance, background check, credit reference, pass the two part state exam, and participate in annual continuing education classes.

For some of us who have earned our license, it is safe to say that we, as a licensed contractor, are held to a higher standard and understand the importance of maintaining our license.  There are a lot of so called “remodelers” here in the north Georgia area that do not abide by the state contracting laws, and that do not have a state license.  Below is a list of questions to ask when hiring a contractor and some telltale signs to be aware of.

  • Do you have a contract?  A written contract protects you, the customer, and also helps minimize problems and/or disputes.
  • Is the contractor asking for all funds to be paid upfront or random payment arrangements?  This is where a contract comes into play describing the work to be performed, payment arrangements, change orders, and an estimated date of completion.
  • Has the contractor asked to have checks written in their name, or cash only?  A legitimate business owner has payment made to their company name.
  • Is the contractor asking the customer to obtain the permit or do they have a “contractor friend” who can get one?  This usually means that your contractor is not licensed.
  • Are your questions or concerns addressed promptly?  Once a project starts it is extremely important for the contractor to respond in a timely manner.
  • Has the contractor asked that the customer pay the subcontractors themselves?  The purpose of hiring a licensed general contractor is so that they can assume all the responsibilities of your project including paying subcontractors.  This way you are only dealing with the general contractor, as it should be.
  • Have you been provided with a certificate of insurance?  This certificate would be made out to you the customer and list the amount of coverage for liability insurance and workers compensation.
  • Is the price extremely low or seem too good to be true?  Like the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Has your contractor provided you with a list of at least 3 recent and local references, reviews, and a portfolio or website?  References and reviews will help give the customer an honest assessment of the service and quality they can expect from the contractor.
  • Does your contractor have a State of Georgia Contractors license?   Don’t assume someone is a licensed contractor just because they advertise themselves as such.  There’s a huge difference between having a business license from the local county office, and having a contractor license from the state of Georgia.  A Contractors License (Residential Basic) is required in Georgia when the project exceeds $2,500.

To find out if your contractor is licensed go to: https://secure.sos.state.ga.us/myverification/

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