Selecting a Contractor

Making the Right ChoiceFor most people, their home is one of the largest investments of their lives. When it comes to home improvement projects, choosing the right contractor to do the work could make or break your investment.

This guide is meant to assist you as a homeowner in choosing the right contractor for your specific project.

Finding a Contractor:

Once you have decided what work you want to have done in your home, you will need to contact contractors to begin receiving proposals for the work to be done. Some places you can find names of contractors are:

  • Friends or neighbors who have had satisfactory work performed
  • People at local home improvement centers, builder shows or open houses.
  • Local Yellowpages list licensed builders who do business in your community.
  • Local home builders associations.
Interview Your Contractor:

Ask to meet with the contractor to discuss the project.  Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • May I have a copy of your worker's compensation and liability insurance certificates?
  • May I have a copy of your contractor's license?
  • How do you warrant your work?
  • Will you clean up the job site on a daily basis?
  • May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine?
Check references and find out if other homeowners were satisfied with the contractor's quality of work and professionalism.

Get Estimates in Writing:

Some items you want to make sure are included in your estimate are:

  • The contractor's name, address, telephone number, contractor's license number and insurance information.
  • Brand names, sizes, quantities, styles, types of products and materials, a detailed description of labor, and all costs associated with the proposal.
  • A timeframe for the project including a start and finish date.
When choosing your contractor, do not choose based solely on cost.  Quality of work and materials will affect the cost.  Compare every aspect of the project before making you choice.

Once you have chosen your contractor:

Get a Contract In Writing:

Your contract should include the following information:

  • The contractor's company name, address, telephone number, contractor license number and insurance information.
  • The name of the contractor and the salesperson (if applicable).
  • Brand names, sizes, quantities, styles, types of products and materials, a detailed description of labor.
  • Start date and completion date of the project - these dates should allow for reasonable delays.
  • A clause that allows for you to withhold payment if work slows down for no apparent reason.
  • Terms and schedule of payment.
  • A statement requiring the contractor to obtain all necessary permits from the City of Tecumseh. Be sure to see the building permit before work starts. The building permit should not be in your name, but rather the name of the contractor. Never obtain the building permit yourself for work being done by a contractor. By doing so, you assume all the risks and it will be difficult to recoup money for inferior work.
  • A statement of warranty on the work to be performed.
  • A date and signature of all parties involved.
Signing a Contract:
  • Make sure the work to be done is in writing on the contract regardless of how minute.
  • Make sure all warranties are listed on the contract - and are not verbal.
  • Make sure you read all the fine print on your contract and understand it, or ask your contractor to explain before you sign the contract.
  • Include in the contract that the contractor will supply you with a contractors Final Affidavit (of no liens) when the job is completed and that a final inspection has been approved before you give him final payment.
Have two copies of the contract signed and dated - one for you and one for the contractor.

It may be in your best interest to consult an attorney for review of the contract prior to signing.
Paying Your Contractor:
  • Never pay for the entire project in advance.  Make a deposit to cover materials and start-up costs.
  • Pay by check payable to the company and ALWAYS get a receipt.
  • Make scheduled payments as work progresses as stated in your contract.
  • Never make a final payment until your building inspection is approved by City of Tecumseh Building Department.
  • Pay your contractor on time - failure to do so could result in a lien being placed on your property.
Resolving Problems with Your Contractor:
  • Any problem should first try to be resolved directly with the contractor before making final payment.
  • If problems cannot be resolved with the contractor, you can file a complaint with the State of Michigan by calling (517) 241-9202.
  • Another method of resolving your problem would be to contact an attorney.
NOTE: All electrical, plumbing, and mechanical (heating and/or air conditioning) work must be done by a Michigan Licensed Contractor. Property owners may do their own work but only for their own residence. Property owners may not complete electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work on rental or commercial property unless they hold a Michigan State Contractors License and they obtain a building permit prior to the start of the project.