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You determined you need a contractor. The next step is getting estimates. Contractors want a detailed list of what you want done. The best way to communicate with contractors is through email. The reason I highly suggest emails is because both parties will have records of what was said-no questions.
Okay, you know what you want to do. Now what?
Once you have determined what you want to do the next step is to find somebody who can do it. The first question you should ask yourself is "Do I need a contractor?" A contractor license is required in the state of Minnesota if any one person provides more than one specialty service such as; a painter or a cabinet maker. There are many benefits to hiring a licensed contractor.
In general, contractors should have a wide knowledge in various subject manners pertaining to your household. This knowledge can be really useful when planning a project. For example; you know you want new cabinets, easy right? It could be or couldn't be. Many projects are linked to multiple services. I will list some things to consider with getting new cabinets and you can see for yourself how complicated it can get; removal of the existing cabinets, patching drywall in the spots where cabinets were moved, an electrician for moving outlets and lighting, new countertops, flooring repair if cabinets are being moved, venting for hood vents, painting the cabinets and/or walls, cabinet hardware, a carpenter to install the cabinets, trim and window moldings, tile for the backsplash, reinforcing the floor to support the weight of an island with a granite countertop, ceiling repair, a licensed plumber to install the sink, dishwasher stove, all the permits necessary to complete the project. WOW! those cabinets you want just got complicated! When considering your project you have to completely understand what can go along with what you need done.
I need a contractor! What is the next step?
Depending on how big the job is, make a list of everything you think that will be done. For bigger projects list the general ideas. Details won't matter because the contractor will have to make an appearance to give an estimate. If you have a small project, most of the time a detailed list and a few pictures can give the contractor the information they need to give you an estimate via email. If you are not sure what the project may cost and want to make sure it’s feasible, just ask the contractor for a ballpark number. This will save you and the contractor a lot of time if the project will break the bank. If the project is fairly large, figure out what your budget is before contacting a contractor. This will allow the contractor to let you know what you can get for your money and also let you know where to spend it. When getting an estimate for larger projects a contractor will come out to your house and take a look at what you want done. They then can give you a range on what it may cost. Once you feel comfortable on moving forward you can give the contractor a verbal agreement and depending on the situation they may want to do a walk-through with their sub-contractors. This is done to prevent hidden expenses. For example; if you want lighting under the cabinets an electrician might determine that an upgraded panel would be necessary to get that extra circuit needed for them, a pricey expenditure. After the walk-through the contractor will put together a contract based on a estimate. This number will be as solid as possible and the contract will revolve around this number, but there is always the possibility of hidden costs when opening walls, ceilings, or other hidden problems that can’t be foreseen.
I signed the contract. What should I do now?
You went forth and signed a stack of papers that was thicker than a dictionary, don't be nervous. The state, lawmakers, and lawyers have made contractors contracts fairly large. The contract is there to make you understand what the contractor is liable for and what they are not liable for. Take the time to read it thoroughly and ask questions. Now the real work begins, time to go shopping. To make sure your project goes as smooth as possible try your best to have all decisions made and all of your fixtures picked up ahead of the schedule. This can be very challenging, but can save time.
The last thing you want to do is to be camping in your living room for an extra two weeks while your last minute decision on your sink is awaiting its arrival. As mentioned many things are linked. That sink you ordered at the last minute means the countertop will now need to be cut for it, another delay. The better you are at making decisions the smoother the job will go. Besides shopping for fixtures and materials there isn't much else you have to do, that is what the contractor is there for. After the job has been completed you will want to exchange the final payment for a lien release. This means the contractor has no right to be able to lien your house. Depending on the size of the job you may want to collect lien waivers from subcontractors prior to paying draws. For example, you just added an addition to your home. It is framed and sheetrock and the contractor is asking for the next payment. You might want to get a lien waiver from the framer and drywaller saying they got paid and will not lien your home. This step is usually only done when either a lot of materials were installed or a lot of labor has been provided.
I made the final
payment. Can I relax?
YES! if you have followed my advice from the above paragraph take a seat, a deep breath and enjoy the finished project. The state of Minnesota requires contractors to carry a 10 year "major construction defects” warranty. A two year plumbing and electrical warranty and a one year "building standards" warranty.