Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a contractor can be difficult. There are hundreds of contractors to choose from, in all areas of expertise. The Village staff is prohibited from making any recommendations for contractors, but the following guidelines should help in selecting the right company for the job.

  • Get at least three bids/quotes. For large jobs, more quotes may be desirable.  Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder, particularly if he/she is significantly lower than the others.  Make sure you requesting bids on the same scope of work.  The cost of the job is only one of the factors you should consider in selecting a contractor, not the only factor. (If you are familiar with the contractor and he/she has good references, you may choose to work with him/her directly or get bids from sub-contractors.)
  • Ask for and check references. Call other people who have used this contractor and don’t be afraid to ask questions that address your concerns.  Determine the reference’s relationship, if any, to the contractor.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.orgOn the Better Business Bureau web site, you can look up a business name to see if any complaints have been filed against them, what kind of complaints have been made, and how or if they were resolved.
  • Ask friends and neighbors for suggestions. People you know who have had work done can usually tell you whether they like the person/company and their work, and you can see for yourself the work that was done.
  • Verify that the contractor has Worker’s Comp for his/her employees. This may eliminate problems for you in the future if someone is injured while working on your home.
  • Verify that the contractor and sub-contractors have the necessary professional and Village licenses. All contractors doing work that requires a building permit are required to get a Wilmette contractors license (this need not be purchased until the permit is ready to be issued).  Electricians, plumbers, and roofers are required to provide proof of their trade-related license(s) when submitting for a Wilmette contractors license.  See here for a complete description of the licenses required.  Remember though, that having a Wilmette contractors license or any other license does not guarantee that the contractor is reputable or insured.
  • For large jobs, ask the contractor to provide Waivers of Lien. Arrange for the contractor to provide a waiver of lien for every pay out you make to the contractor.  The waiver protects the homeowner from having a lien placed on the property by the contractor, sub-contractors, or the material suppliers he/she uses.
  • Prior to signing a contract, agree to a payment plan that is fair and equitable to both parties. Ask for a written change order with itemized costs for all proposed extras to be paid at the end of the contract with the final payout.
  • Do not make a final payout on the job until you confirm the project has passed all final inspections. If the work does not pass final inspection and you have paid out the project, it will be more difficult to get the work corrected.
  • Make sure it is clear who will obtain the necessary building permit(s). Some contractors include in their quote their responsibility for getting the permit.  Others prefer to have the homeowner do it.  If your work requires a permit, don’t let this part of the job fall through the cracks.  For a complete list of work requiring permits, see the Permits Required handout or contact the Community Development Development.
  • Remember, doing work without the necessary permit violates the law and may result in fines, as well as significant delay in the completion of your project.  The Village also assesses a surcharge for work that is started without a permit.  Village Code places the responsibility for obtaining permits on the homeowner.  When a permit is obtained, the permit card(s) must be displayed in the window.