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Before you Hire a Contractor

Identify your project

Your biggest investment is your home or business premises. Prior to starting your project you need to make a thorough list of exactly what your project will entail and what you want to do: redecorate or renovate? If redecorating, consider the various types of decorative coatings available, drive around your suburb and look at colours used on other homes that may appeal to you and get colour swatches from your local hardware or paint supplier. If renovating, complete a basic sketch or layout of what you envisage or hire the services of a draftsman to assist with a basic layout; alternatively, there are many cost effective basic architectural programs for the layman available that are easy to use. Having a basic drawing and a comprehensive written to do list will greatly assist you when negotiating with a contractor who may try and convince you otherwise.

Plan your budget

Establish what finances you have available to fund the project allowing a nominal amount for unexpected contingencies. Once you have determined your budget available you can look at the different financial options available to fund the project.

Do research

Know what permits are required for your region, this can be done by contacting your local municipality or via the web. You can also find useful tips by researching the internet on all subjects pertaining to your project. You can visit sites such as the Master Builders Association for additional information. Research the web relating to products that you want to use in your redecoration or refurbishment, what warrantees are offered, do they have approved applicators, etc.

Estimated timeline to complete work

This is a very important factor of your project and can impact on your lifestyle.

Do you want to do the redecoration or refurbishment during winter or summer? During school holidays? When does building industry shutdown? How many public holidays are between the start and finish of the project? Generally, the best time to start is when the least amount of rainfall for your area is expected and distractions such as public holidays which will negatively affect your timing schedule. GET WHAT YOU DESERVE IN A CONTRACTOR

Neighbours / work restrictions / permits

Have you approached your neighbours for permissions relating to restrictions, inconveniences, etc.? This can eliminate the frustrations normally associated with redecoration or refurbishment that will be taking place and it is also good manners. Have you approached the municipality to ensure that you will not be encroaching on the municipal bylaws associated with renovations? Have you got permission to use the pavement areas for deliveries of sand, stone and grit? Although your contractor may be aware of what permits and inspections are required, so should you familiarise yourself with them. This can be done through your local municipality or the Master Builders Association.

Identify suitable Contractors

This can be done by approaching your local Master Builders Association or by researching the internet or Yellow Pages. Always look at multiple contractors. Set up a list of questions that you want to ask the contractor in the contractor pre-appointment interview. Find out as much as you can about the contractor’s company, i.e. is the contractor VAT registered? Does the contractor have a current Tax Clearance Certificate? Does the contractor have a Workers’ Compensation Clearance Certificate? Is the contractor a CC, (Pty) Ltd, or a sole proprietor? How many people does the contractor employ? Is the contractor the only shareholder / proprietor or member? How does the contractor expect payments and when? Does the contractor ask for a deposit up front (danger sign)? Does the contractor operate from business premises or from home? Does the contractor make use of “off the street” staffing or use of the contractor’s own employees? Are these staff vetted, in other words, does the contractor have legitimate contracts with the contractors’ employees, copies of their ID documents, etc.? Does the contractor have the required insurance in the event of damages to your existing property? Does the contractor have personal liability insurance? Arrange an interview evening whereby you will discuss the scope of works to be undertaken. This will normally break the ice and allow you the opportunity to “eyeball” the contractor and get a feel for him/her. A contractor that is tardy, disinterested and that does not ask questions and take notes is not worth engaging. By asking questions you can establish “red flags” prior to appointing a contractor.

Check list - Contractor A versus Contractor B versus Contractor C