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Building a Home

How to Find a Good Contractor


By Robert Greenbaum, Chief Marketing Officer with AAFMAA Mortgage Services, LLC

Finding a reputable contractor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when building a house, or finding someone to complete major home improvement projects. After all, your home is a large investment, and the last thing you want is to have poor workmanship, cost overruns, or an unfinished house.

Yet when starting your home construction or improvement project, how do you narrow down your choices for the right contractor for your proposed plan? Here are a few initial tips to help you to complete your project.

Start with a Plan

The first step in learning how to find a good contractor begins with defining your project needs. There are a lot of different contractors out there, and you may need more than one. Determining your needs allows you to choose the right kind of contractor(s) to complete your project.

To form a basic plan, you’ll need to:

  • Research online for rough estimates.
  • Specify your requirements, and must-haves as well as your wish list.
  • Establish a budget.
  • Estimate your ideal timeline and one that accounts for reasonable delays.
  • Gather recommendations from trusted sources.

With that in mind, here are five steps to help you find reputable contractors to hire, whether for home repair projects or to help build your dream home.

5 Steps to Finding a Good Contractor

1. Get Multiple Bids

Be sure to speak with several contractors who specialize in the kind of work you’re looking for and get at least three written estimates. When you compare estimates, look beyond price to compare the quality of the building materials, work methods, and timelines. You want to be sure you make the most of your military construction home loan by investing in getting things done right the first time.

Be cautious of estimates that seem too high or too low, and always ask questions about anything you’re not sure about. You’ll want to hire a contractor who communicates well with you, so if there are signs of non-responsiveness early on, look elsewhere.

2. Hire Local When Possible

Local contractors should be easier to contact before, during, and after your project. They may also be more familiar with local building codes or HOA restrictions. Ask for a physical address and references, so you can inquire about the quality of their homes or projects, their workmanship, and if the customer would hire them again.

Most people either know contractors or have hired a contractor in the past. Local referrals provide a good starting point. If you still need additional references, social media sites and reviews can also be good resources.

3. Check Credentials

It’s important to make sure a contractor’s credentials are in order, including licenses, bonding, insurance, and references. You’ll want to make sure they have insurance for damage to your property and injury to any of their workers who are hurt on your property. The contractor’s certificate of insurance should provide the name of the insurance company, policy number, and the policy limits.

It’s a good idea to contact the insurance company directly to ensure the policy is in effect and to verify coverage. For an added layer of security, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) too — the BBB has a scam tracker on its website to help you spot scammers and file a report.

4. Don’t Rush Into Anything

If a contractor says you need to sign immediately, watch out. Pressuring you to agree to something without reading the fine print on all estimates and contracts is a big red flag. Take your time and do your due diligence.

Even if you’re recovering from an emergency and don’t have time to thoroughly research a contractor, ask neighbors, family, or friends to see if they have had a good experience with an emergency services contractor. Don’t pay in advance or in cash; don’t pay in full until the project is complete and you’ve done your final inspection. Plus, if the contractor used subcontractors, ask for signed documentation showing that the subcontractor paid them in full. You do not want potential property liens that can be filed for non-payment.

5. Keep a Project File

A written contract signed by both parties should outline the project including its start and estimated end date, cost, and payment milestones. The contract should outline all guarantees — what they guarantee, who is responsible for the guarantee, and how long the guarantee is valid.

All parties should acknowledge contract changes in writing, says HomeAdvisor. Keep everything about the project in a file because, after all, you never think you’re going to have a problem until you do.

AMS Provides Construction Loans to Military Members

Now that you’ve learned how to find a reputable contractor, it’s time to learn how to afford one! If you’re ready to build your dream home but don’t know how to finance it, let AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS) and our Military Mortgage Advisors help you get the loan you need to start construction.

Construction Advantage One Loan℠

  • Minimum FICO score: 620
  • Loan amount: Up to 100% financing for building a new home
  • Includes financing for: Lot, construction, and permanent loan with a one-time close

Construction Advantage 80℠ Loan

  • Minimum FICO score: 680
  • Loan amount: $200,000 to $2million
  • Includes financing for: Up to 80% financing of the completed home’s value (including the lot)

Construction Advantage 95℠ Loan

  • Minimum FICO score: 680
  • Loan amount: $200,000 to $1 million
  • Includes financing for: Up to 95% financing of the completed home’s value (including the lot)

Land Advantage Loan℠

  • Minimum FICO score: 680
  • Loan amount: $75,000 to $500,000
  • Includes financing for: Up to 75% financing of the appraised value of the land

AMS is proud to help former and active servicemembers build their dream homes. To learn more about our Construction Advantage loans, call us at 844-422-3622 or contact us today for current rates and additional details.

This article was originally published October 23, 2019.