How to Work with Contractors



When you hire someone to do work on your home, you should insist on a contract that provides you with details of the work, do not accept a price scribbled down on a small piece of paper.  A good contract will include the following:

  • A set of specifications detailing exactly what is going to be done and with what materials
  • An agreement that the contractor will obtain all necessary permits and arrange for all inspections
  • A date when the work will begin and how long it should take
  • The cost of the project
  • Payment schedule for when work is completed. Unless materials have been delivered to your home, it is generally best NOT to pay any money until the work has actually begun. Only pay for materials that have been delivered and work that has been completed.
  • Copies of the contractor’s liability insurance and any bonding he has.
  • Description of the warranties for the work that will be completed and the materials used.
  • Summary of the State of Ohio law that allows you three days to back out of the contract if you decide not to proceed.
  • The name of the contractor, his company’s name, phone and mailing address (NOT a post office box) and a place for you and the contractor to sign and date the contract.


Be wary of any contractor who uses “scare tactics”. If a contractor tells you your furnace will blow up or your foundation will collapse, get a second opinion fast.

Watch for bait and switch tactics that attempt to bait you with advertisements for cheap prices and then switch you to a more expensive job later.

Be careful of the contractor who knocks on your door or calls you because they have ‘extra’ materials to do a job more cheaply. This rarely turns out to be a bargain.  And remember, get at least three estimates, don’t pay a contractor a large sum of money in advance and always get a receipt for partial payments.