CREATED May. 31, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Tis the season for home improvement projects. Many of us turn to contractors in the spring and summer for help getting major work done. But there are some things to keep in mind when hiring a contractor.
"It was an eyesore to the neighborhood and a general mess," said Carol Mittman.
Hiring the wrong contractor can be a nightmare. Carol knows that all too well. She hired a contractor last November to remodel her kitchen and build an addition to her Henderson home.
"But then in January everything stopped, complete abandonment of the project," says Carol.
She learned shortly after that, the contractor had gone bankrupt. And that left Carol and her husband, living in the middle of a construction zone.
"I had a kitchen, although it wasn't completely finished. Nothing was done in the back but rubble where they had dug up the patio. And rubble in the front where the patio had been," says Carol.
So what do you need to know before you hire a contractor? Number one...
"First and foremost, ask for that contractor's license number," says Jennifer Turner with the Nevada State Contractors Board.
She says a licensed contractor must meet certain experience and safety requirements, plus be insured and bonded. And finding out the license number won't be hard.
"Contractors are required by state law to display their license number on their vehicles, any business cards, their contracts, any documentation," says Jennifer.
And you can verify the license number with the State Contractors Board. Number two on the list: "We always encourage getting 3 bids, if you have the opportunity," says Jennifer.
But beware of any bid that's substantially lower than others. It may be a sign the contractor made a mistake, or hasn't included all of the work quoted by other contractors. So be sure to provide as much detail as possible, about the work you want done.
Another priority... ask for references in writing. Call the contractor's previous customers, and ask if they were happy with the work. If you can, go see the work for yourself. And finally... never pay in cash.
"We always recommend paying with check or credit card. So you have a receipt transaction of that payment," says Jennifer.
That's what Carol did, she paid her contractor with personal checks. And because she hired a properly licensed contractor, she was able to file a claim and get a lot of her money back through the Residential Recovery Fund. Carol is using that money, to pay for a new contractor who's finishing up her home remodeling project.
"There's no reason why you can't have a successful experience with a contractor, if you do your homework," says Carol.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. Once you've found the right contractor for your project, make sure to sign a contract. And never pay more than 10 percent or $1,000 up front. Ultimately, you should be making payments as the work is being performed.