HOUSTON - Home improvement season is in full swing and choosing your contractor is very important, but what some don't consider is it is also essential to know your subcontractors.
When starting a big home project, it's not unusual for a contractor to hire subcontractors, but when it comes down to people working on your house, Angie Hicks, the creator of the website Angie's List, told Local 2 you need to lay down the law and be part of the hiring decision.
"Ask for a list of subcontractors the contractor will potentially use and then check them out yourself. Check them out on Angie's List, check with friends and family and find out exactly who is going to be working on your house," Hicks said.
When it comes to work, everybody wants to get paid. If your contractor fails to pay those other workers, you can be held liable.
"If you're doing a big project it's important to talk to the general contractor about a lien waver. That's basically going to protect you against the contractor not paying the subcontractor, because if the contractor doesn't pay his subs, they could potentially put a lien against your property," Hicks said.
If your contractor is skeptical about signing the waiver, you can refuse to pay him until he has taken care of everyone else.
"If the contractor refuses to have a lien waver, it's a red flag and you should walk away," Hicks said.
Knowing how liens are enforced in your area is essential. Most have the same guidelines, but each state has slightly different standard concerning liens and lien releases.
When you are fully aware of everyone who is working on your home, you are set to have not only a successful home improvement but to protect yourself at the same time.
Dealing with Subcontractors Hit List:
Know your subcontractors
· Ask your general contractor for a list of subcontractors to be used on a project, and then check the subs out.
· Angie's List recommends soliciting at least three bids, properly vetting contractors and subcontractors by checking references and verifying licensure (if applicable), and negotiating a detailed contract.
· Ask the contractor how long he/she has worked with the subcontractors. What is their experience working together?
· Insist on a lien waiver, which protects the homeowner from liability if the general contractor fails to pay the subcontractors.
General Contractor (GC): Type of manager who is in charge of overseeing the entirety of a project. For a job, the G.C. will meet with the homeowner to go over the initial project details, estimate the cost of the project, draft a contract, hire workers and handle the daily operation of the job. General, contractors usually don't perform any of the labor, but instead hire skilled tradesmen as subcontractors.
Subcontractor: A worker who is hired by a general contractor to perform the obligations of another's contract. Also referred to as specialty contractors or "subs," subcontractors are typically hired to perform a specialized type of labor. They are the plumbers, roofers, carpet installers and electricians who are essential to any large remodeling project. As the name implies, subcontractors work under contract with, and get paid by general contractors.
What is a lien waver?
If a home improvement contractor fails to pay his employees or fails to pay for the building materials used in the project, a lien can be placed on your property and you, the property owner, can be held liable for the unpaid expenses if a lien waiver was not established.
· To avoid unexpected fees or liens, homeowners should consider always including a lien waiver or lien waiver clause in the project's contract. With a lien waiver, when the project is successfully completed, both parties sign off and state that the contract obligations have been met, including the general contractor making all necessary payments to materials suppliers, subcontractors or vendors.
· If the general contractor doesn't agree to sign off on the lien waiver, you can withhold payment until he or she has proved they've paid their suppliers or subcontractors.
· One of the most essential things to know about liens and lien releases is how they're enforced in your area. Although the general principle is the same for most areas, each state or municipality has different standards for the application of liens and their releases.
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