You have saved and are ready to build the house of your dreams. If you select the wrong contractor, however, it could quickly turn into a nightmare. There are plenty of great contractors in Southwest Florida but there are a few not so great. How do you know the difference? Below are five tips to help you with the contractor selection process:
- Google. Perform a simple Google search on the contractor’s name and check social media websites for any information that may be of assistance. Many times, you will find compliments and perhaps even some complaints posted. Remember there is little control over comments made online so be sure to discuss any concerns directly with the contractor rather than relying solely on the internet posts.
- Ask for References. Be prepared with a written list of items important to you before talking with references. Queries should include quality of performance, timeliness of performance, open communications, timely payment of subcontractors and maintaining original price quote, etc. Equally important, ask for a tour of one or two homes the contractor has built.
- Confirm Contractor’s License. Always confirm the contractor’s licensing status by visiting Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) construction industry records. You should also research whether complaints have been filed against the contractor with the DBPR.
- Clerk of Court Land Records. If you are unable to locate prior customers, you can easily locate owners the contractor has built for by searching the local clerk of court official land records for “Notices of Commencement” under the contractor’s name. The Notice of Commencement will include the owners’ name and contact information. Click here for Lee County, Florida, Land Records and here for Collier County, Florida, Land Records.
- Local Clerk of Court Records. Check for any lawsuits filed against the contractor and federal court records for bankruptcies. (Click here for Lee County, Florida, Records; here for Collier County, Florida, Records; and here for U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.) Keep in mind that not all lawsuits are legitimate. Therefore, you may want to delve further to determine the number of lawsuits, the claims made in the lawsuits and the outcome. Also, check the local public records for liens filed on the contractor’s jobs or judgments against the contractor. Liens on jobs may reflect a tendency not to pay or timely pay subcontractors and material suppliers.
After you complete your investigation and select your contractor, you will want to carefully review the contract terms and conditions to ensure they appear reasonable, and are clear and fair. It would be wise to consider hiring an attorney to protect your interests before signing on the dotted line. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free contact me at 239-344-1369 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.