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Contractors: Tips, Tricks, and What to Avoid

New Haven Contractor and Property Owner Shaking HandsOne problem you might encounter with investing in New Haven single-family rental properties is hiring capable, reliable contractors for your property improvements and repairs. When hiring contractors, investors will always prefer those who can provide high-quality work over those who can’t deliver. With just a few simple tips and tricks, you can save yourself the trouble of getting into deals with anything less than what the best contractors have to offer.

Essential to your goal as a property owner are quality contractors who will deliver good work. Several industry professionals are capable of doing good work for you. All you need to do is hire them! That way, you can save some cash. But to find contractors you can build long-term business relationships with, you first need to do your research. If you know some trusted real estate agents, property managers, or even property owners, it would be wise to seek their counsel regarding contractors and whatnot. You can also research potential contractors online. If you need help with verification, you can check online for sites that vet contractors through customer reviews or even professional recommendations.

Another piece of advice would be this: don’t count out referrals. They’re a good place to start when searching for great contractors. Quality contractors would gladly offer the names of people who can vouch for them and what they are capable of providing. Once you get a name, be sure to ask specific questions about the contractor’s reliability, cost, responsiveness, and flexibility. Was a price agreed upon and followed? If concerns and changes were brought to the table, were they open to it? If you aren’t satisfied with the answers to these questions, keep looking.

Once you have several potential contractors vetted, ask them to give you a bid. The bid will provide you an idea as to how much to pay for the work. It also gives you an idea as to how the contractor calculates rates. The lowest bid might seem tempting, but always take these bids with a grain of salt — especially when they’re significantly lower than the rest. Be wary of very low bids. This might be the doing of a contractor who is trying to hook a deal for low prices, to charge additional expenses later. It could even be that this contractor is trying to find ways to obtain work without the required permits. But, it’s also important not to overpay for your contractor’s work. Aim for the middle bid, which will likely be the most realistic.

While making your inquiries, be aware of potential warning signs: suspiciously low rates, or even bad customer reviews online. Check with your state licensing board and search local court records for your contractor’s name. At all costs, avoid contractors who don’t have a license. This will expose your rental property to serious liability. A large number of complaints or lawsuits is an automatic red flag. It’s also a serious problem when the contractor is avoiding answering the phone or responding to messages. While a few missed phone calls are not a sure sign of trouble, if more than 24 hours pass without a response, move on.

Other warning signs can be observed during the bidding process. If a contractor asks for a large deposit upfront, that should stir suspicion. Anything more than 15% should be cause for concern. You should suspect any contractor who makes big promises about how much they can do within a specific timeframe, or when they demand unlimited time. Essential to your goals are project costs and completion times that are achievable and realistic. Look for a contractor who is capable of doing this.

In your search for the right contractors for your investment property improvements and repairs, you will spend time and money in the beginning. But when the time finally comes that you come across the one person who can get the job done, you can be sure that your property management journey will significantly smoothen out. If all of these details are a bit too intimidating for you, let us know. At Real Property Management Southern Connecticut, we work with you and for you. Please contact us online or call us at 203-821-7303 to learn more about how we can serve you.

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