Your home is one of your most valuable assets, so you don't want to take chances when you are looking for someone to do renovations or repairs. In some cases, you may be safe choosing a contractor who has a valid North Carolina license. However, the state does not require every general contractor to have a license, so unless you are dealing with a very expensive remodel, you may have trouble finding a licensed contractor willing to take on your project.
Before hiring the first contractor who offers you a good price, you will want to gather as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision about who will be most suitable for your home improvement plans.
Getting to know your contractor
Contracting to make repairs, additions or renovations to your home is the same as applying for any job. A contractor who knows his or her business will expect homeowners to have questions about the contractor's qualifications and will be ready to respond to your concerns. Some details you will want to know about a prospective contractor include the following:
- Experience: Ask any contractors you interview how long they have been in business and whether they have done projects similar to what you are proposing.
- Licensing: If your project includes plumbing or electrical work, your contractor will need a license.
- Insurance: A prospective contractor should provide you with proof of liability, property damage and workers' compensation insurance coverage.
- References: A prospective contractor should do more than provide you with a list of names but should share information about recently completed projects you can see and works-in-progress you can visit.
If your prospective contractor will have subcontractors working for him or her, you will want to interview them as well. The purpose of this interview is to learn whether the subcontractors also carry adequate insurance and if the prospective contractor has a reputation for paying them on time. If not, you may be at risk of a mechanic's lien, which makes your home collateral for the unpaid wages of the subcontractors.
Your contractor should confirm his or her responsibility for acquiring any permits necessary for your project. Contractors who require you to get your own permits may have licensing issues with the state, and you would do well to avoid working with them.
Nevertheless, you may go through every precaution to hire the most qualified and experienced contractor only to be left with defects in the construction. Fortunately, you do not have to deal with these issues on your own, and you can seek legal advice for your best course of action.