According to the New Jersey General Contractor, “There is no state licensing board for the General Contractor, HomeBuilder and Home Improvement Contractor. However, there is a state registration program.”
So be extra careful when choosing a contractor. Make sure you check references and referall services like Home Advisor. Another good resource to check out is Better Business Bureau. This lets people files complaints against contractors.
Talk with family and friends about contractors they would recommend. Don’t always go with the lowest offer, sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more for good quality. And once you find a good, credible contractor, do not let tasks be delegated to inexperienced subcontractors.
Ask for a WRITTEN estimate with a complete breakdown of exact costs, which should include material and labor. In addition, get reviews from the contractor's previous customers.
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Marc Barnes)
According to the Professional Insurance Agents of New York, the standard price to pay upfront for a contractor is 33 percent. You don’t want to end up in a situation like Mark Zarrilli. Zarrilli had to take his case to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office when he paid $7,000 upfront, and then his contractor dragged his feet to complete the project.
Have a contract drawn up with start and end dates, the specific work that will be done, payment agreements and warranty information. Make sure to include a hold-harmless clause. This guarantees (with respect to your liability) that the contractor will compensate damages done to people or property while on the job. If it’s not in writing, you won’t have proof if something goes wrong.
Make sure the contractor is bonded and properly insured. It’s OK to ask for certificates of insurance for workers’ compensation or general liability policies.
If the contractor finds something like asbestos, the contractor must be licensed to deal with hazardous materials in order to proceed. If not, you should hire a licensed professional, or else you could be held liable if the material is not disposed properly.