Choosing a Contractor
Often I am asked questions such as “who would you recommend I
have do the work” or “Is this contractor OK”. These questions place my staff and
I in a very difficult situation. We are unable to
recommend or guide consumers in their choice of contractors. We all feel
obligated to serve the residents of
The same holds true for contractor / consumer disputes. My staff and I are sometimes asked to take sides and mediate in disputes between parties. Our position is constant; if the work is in compliance with the code we cannot become involved. Legal code compliance, contractual obligations and purchaser expectations may vastly differ. These matters are civil in nature and should be handled accordingly.
The bottom line is BUYER BEWARE. You need to do your homework before you have work done in your home. Take steps to prevent being misled or deceived, select a contractor whom you can trust with your most valuable asset.
Here is list of things you should investigate prior to entering into an agreement with a contractor. Keep it for future reference.
Do not allow the contractor to start any work before a construction permit has been issued and is on the job site. If the contractor is willing to work without a permit he or she has something to hide. Obtaining permits is the legal responsibility of the homeowner. Failure to obtain a permit is subject to a penalty of $2000. Most of the time a contractor will work with you to obtain the permits.
Be sure that your agreement states that final payment will not be presented until a Certificate of Approval or Occupancy is obtained from the Construction Official. This is for your protection and is required by NJ state law.
As you can see choosing a contractor is a little more than going to the yellow pages and letting your fingers do the walking. You need to do some research and find the best contractor for you and your project.
You may be able to obtain additional information from the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs regarding Home Improvement Practices.
Dennis Bettler, C.B.O.