If you have a larger project, then you will likely be interviewing several stucco contractors.
Narrowing down which ones will make sure that your project turns out the way you want it to can be somewhat confusing, not to mention the different bids you'll be getting, recommended repairs needed, texture and color samples, etc.
Here are a few pointers that should make the task a little easier:
Ask to see a couple of jobs that the contractor has done in the past. Try to get some more recent jobs, within the past month or two, would be better and will show that they are still doing good work and people are still hiring them.
Ask them if they have a couple of individuals that you can talk to about their experiences with them, a great contractor will have many references and will have no problem contacting them for you to arrange a meetup.
Good Places To Obtain Recommendations:
- Stucco Supply Yard: The staff will know virtually every plastering crew in your vicinity and can make excellent resources. Just call and ask for 3-5 recommended plastering contractor's that they know do good work.
- If you have more than one supply yard in your area, then call a couple more to get a better overall comparison.
- Local Online Communities: These are a great place to get recommendations from actual people and can be found on sites like Facebook, various forums, etc. Try typing in "(your city) online community" into a search engine like Google and see what pops up.
- General Contractors: General contractors will hire a stucco crew to complete any stucco homes that they are working on and will only hire the best contractors for their jobs. Ask how long they have used them for and if you can look at some of their previous work, this is a HUGE benefit for you.
Are They Licensed And Insured?
Make sure the contractor is compliant with your local contractor's licensing board and they are in good standing. You can look the company up by the name or by their contractor license number, these searches are free and can provide you with a ton of useful information.
Insurance is very important, because if a wall or walls were to fail and allow water to come inside your home, it could damage sheet rock, insulation, flooring, furniture and a lot more. So checking to make sure that they have insurance and it is updated is vital to your stucco project.
Their BBB Rating...
Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to see if they have had any complaints or civil suits filed against them in more recent years.
Ratings in the BBB are not as important because contractors can pay to have a positive rating, making the rating system flawed, just pay attention to any negative feedback that the contractor has had from the past.
A legitimate contractor will always have a contract, stating in writing, what work is to be performed and at what cost to you. Do not start any work until a contract is signed and you and the contractor fully understand each others terms and conditions.
Try to avoid plastering contractors that want a large percentage of the bid up front in order to start, this is not usually a good sign and can end in a disaster, if your not careful.
Draws From The Contractor During The Process:
Stucco contractors usually break the bid up into a couple of different parts like 40% after lathing is completed (paper and wire), an additional 40% after the scratch or brown is finished and the remaining 20% after the finish is completed. This is just an example and different contractors may break it up differently, but that is a rough idea of how it works.
If you have a very large project, then the contractor may require a small percentage to get started, but this should never exceed 20% of the bid, basically it pays for materials to get started, maybe some of the labor, etc. so keep that in mind as well.
A General Time Frame:
Be sure to ask when they can start and how long the job will take to complete. Cement needs to cure between coats, so 1-2 months is pretty standard when it comes to time frames.
The cement base coats have to cure for a number of days (scratch coat around 1 week and the brown coat 2-3 weeks) in order to harden adequately and be suitable for the next coat that gets applied on top of them.
Meet Them In Person:
A telephone call will only tell you so much about someone, but if you met them in person, now you can get a feel for their personality, professionalism, expertise and so much more.
Take them around your home and ask a few questions to see how they answer them, you will know straight away if they are knowledgeable or not and how confident they are, when it comes to their trade. This is also a good way to see if they are on time, which tells a lot about their business.
Most of the time, they will provide free estimates, which includes house calls, so take advantage of this and use it!
Do A Little Research...
Ask the contractor what system they are going to use, three coat, one coat, etc. Do a little research beforehand so you can ask a few topic relevant questions and see how they will get answered. An experienced contractor will have no problem answering your questions and will be more than willing to do so.
These are just a couple of things to keep in mind when looking around at different stucco contractors. Ask any additional questions that you may have and be sure that he/she answers them and gives you options on how to go about the job.