Guidelines on hiring a Contractor

The state of Virginia law requires contractors to be licensed. It is important to make sure that any license presented to you is valid, and that it belongs to the person with whom you are speaking. In Virginia, any type of contracting work Involving improvements to real property must be performed by a licensed contractor. To verify a contractors license, contact  the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation's Board for Contractors in Richmond, (their automated phone number is: 1-804-367-8511 - have the license Number of the contractor handy when you call). or visit there website at It is important to remember that a contractor cannot lend their license out for others to work under or or obtain building permits.

Insurance: Make sure that the contractor has valid insurance and verify this with the Insurance carrier. Your contractor should have two types of insurance in order to protect you while the work is being performed. They are:

1. General liability insurance - Covers any accidental damage that could occur on your property during the job.

2. Workers compensation insurance - Covers possible work related injuries on the

Job site.

References: most reputable contractors can provide you with a reference list of cliental, I would recommend contacting at least 3, common questions to consider when interviewing the references:

(a). Was the job started on time?

(b). Was the job finished on time?

(c). Were there any surprises during the job?

(d). Was the job completed for the pre-agreed upon price?

(e). Was it easy to get in contact with the contractor while the work was in progress?

(f). Would you hire the same contractor for other improvements?

Suppliers: Ask the contractor for the names of his or her primary material supplier(s) and then call upon them to inquire about the contractor in question. Ask whether the contractor pays bills promptly and whether or not the supplier would recommend the contractor to any of their customers?


-Never pay in cash, and never provide any type of payment without a written Contract and never pay the whole contract amount up front!

-Always include a detailed materials list in the contract. Specify the exact materials, manufacturers model numbers etc. this will save you a lot of grief and help eliminate possible increases above the contract in change orders.

-As the work progresses, Make payments in stages to pay off the Contract. These payments should be made at the end of each step of actual work. Example: The foundation has been completed. A payment is due for the concrete and all related labor, or, the framing is completed, make a payment for the lumber and the labor costs. Also, remember this, various stages of your project will require various building inspections at various stages. Example, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical close-in,  framing and final Inspection, etc., all require approval by the building or trade inspector before work can continue to the next stage of construction.  The Building Inspector will leave a copy of the inspection report with the inspection results at the job site either with the contractor, homeowner or at the front door of the property, verify that an inspection has been made and approved before you make the progress payment.  If you are unsure about an inspection or the results of an inspection contact the Building Inspection Department for the status of the permit(s) and or inspection results.

-Withhold a pre-determined and agreed upon amount of the contract amount to be issued as a final payment. Do not make final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction and in accordance with your contract, verify that all if any mechanics liens have been released for each sub-contractor and material supplier and have had approved final inspections from the building inspection Department.

-if making changes to the original contract, get the changes in writing.

-Document, Document, Document, Keep everything no matter how insignificant it may seem.  All receipts, bills, the contract, copies of the building permit(s), and keep a journal of dates, times, weather conditions etc. If it pertains to your job save it in a safe place for future reference.