Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Remodeling or Building an Addition or Deck?

Here are some tips from your Building Department:
  • Get all estimates and warranties in writing.
  • Do not be induced by high pressure sales tactics, such as special prices if you sign a contract today.
  • Take time to check references. Ask for at least 3 references - one for a project that is current or recently completed. Another completed about a year ago and one from at least 2-3 years ago. Call these references and ask how satisfied they were with the workmanship, if work was completed in the estimated time, and if any warranty work was required.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau regarding any complaints. Access their website.
  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces or one that you do not fully understand. If you are taking a loan to finance the work, do not sign the contract before lender approves it. Important: Mail signed contract to contractor’s address and verify receipt.
  • You have 3 business days from the time you sign to cancel any contract if the sale is made at your home. The contractor cannot deprive you of this right by initiating work, selling your contract to a lender, or any other tactic.
  • Ask your contractor if they are registered with the Village. Call the Building Department at 708-671-3733 to verify registration. You must provide the Building Department a brief description of the proposed project to determine whether a permit is required. If a permit is not required, the contractor still must be registered with the Village. If a permit is required, you or your contractor must obtain and post it in plain view prior to commencing any work.

Basic Terms to Be Included in a Contract

  • Contractor’s full name, address, and telephone number. Illinois law requires that persons selling home repair and improvement services provide their customers with notice of any change to their business name or address that occur prior to the agreed dates for beginning or completing the work.
  • A description of all work to be performed.
  • Starting and estimated completion dates.
  • Total cost of work to be performed.
  • Schedule and method of payment, including down payment, subsequent payments, and final payment. Important: Owner should request material and labor waivers for work performed when requested to make subsequent payments. You should always receive final waivers for labor and for all materials delivered to your home from non-contracted sources such as ready-mix, lumber, roofing suppliers, etc. when making final payments. The waivers serve as proof that payment was made by your contractor for all labor and materials used on your project and will protect you from liens against your property.
  • A provision stating grounds for termination of the contract by either party. The homeowner must pay the contractor for any work completed. If the contractor fails to commence or complete work within the contracted time period, the homeowner may cancel and be entitled to a refund of any down payment or other payments made toward the work upon written demand by certified mail.
  • Always keep a copy of the signed contract in a safe place for reference as needed.
  • It is important that you know your consumer rights in regard to home repairs. Ask the Building Department for a copy of Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan’s pamphlet titled “HOME REPAIR - Know Your Consumer Rights.”
  • For more information, contact the Building Department at 708-671-3730 or the Chicago Better Business Bureau.