Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a Contractor
Here are some suggestions for choosing a contractor:
  • Ask people you know for the names of contractors they have used and would recommend.
  • Do not hesitate to check references, licensing and background information on a contractor by calling the Better Business Bureau of West Florida at (727) 535-5522.
  • Make sure that lines of communication are strong between you and the contractor.
  • Check to see if the contractor's license is current and valid by calling:
    • Temple Terrace Permit Office at (813) 506-6470
    • Hillsborough County Licensing Office at (813) 635-7308
  • Check the contractor’s insurance coverage. A legitimate contractor should carry comprehensive policies to protect his business and your property, including liability, property damage and worker’s compensation.

These offices can verify if an individual or company is properly licensed and insured for your protection. Additional information can also be provided regarding the type of license that is held and the type of work that can be legally performed.

Understanding a Contract
Regardless of the relationship you have with a contractor, the details and agreements of the job should be in writing. Here are some guidelines to follow:
  • Ask for written quotes with details. It is advisable to obtain quotes from at least three different contractors. Too often one may provide information the others have failed to notice or mention. Remember the lowest quote is not always the best one. It could mean a misunderstanding of the project.
  • Include building plans and specifications you want in the proposal and include them as part of any contract.
  • Specify start and finish dates in the contract. Allow flexibility in these dates to cover bad weather and unavailable materials, understanding that these situations are beyond control of the contractors.
  • Include in the contract a pay schedule for the work, and itemize prices for the work. Large down payments are not always a necessity. It is always recommended that a payment schedule be established prior to commencing the work to avoid confusion when it comes to money. You may want to include a clause in the contract that final payment will not be due until a final inspection is received by the city's Building Department.
  • Have your contractor provide any warranties and guarantees in writing and signed by the contractor and/or manufacturers. They should include all terms and conditions.
  • Make sure that you and the contractor sign all documents, preferably with multiple copies containing original signatures.
  • Demand that the contractor post a permit before commencing any work.
  • Inquire about a notice of commencement.