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How to Hire a Contractor

Courtesy of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers (NGPP)

The Most Important Questions You'll Ever Ask About Hiring a Professional Paperhanger Are:

  • Why should I hire a professional paperhanger?
  • How do I find the right paperhanger for the job I'm planning?
  • How do I know I'm hiring a quality paperhanger?
  • How do I make sure I get what I pay for?

Why Hire a Professional Paperhanger?

Your project represents a sizable investment. The proper maintenance and care of your properties are essential, and the proper hanging of your wallcoverings is essential to making it look its best and increasing longevity.

Before you do anything, take time to plan. Think your project through from start to finish.

You can increase the value of your investment and customize your living or work space through remodeling for much less than buying a new home or office. Each has a purpose, a function; and particular rooms are the places you will be spending most of your time. Make yourself focus on what your plan should accomplish.

Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself are:

  • What are specific rooms used for?
  • Who uses them?
  • Who sees them?
  • How does a particular decorating scheme add or detract from these basic needs?

Then ask some practical questions about the project:

  • Are any repairs needed?
  • Does old wallpaper have to be removed?
  • Do I want "improved" wallcoverings?

After you've done some serious considering, it's time to find a qualified professional to help you accomplish your goal.

Selecting the Right Installer for the Job

First, you'll want to hire an installer with a reputation for excellent work. There are a number of ways to check for this information.

  • Use recommendations of friends or neighbors; get references and check them. If possible, go look at finished work.
  • Check with the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau in your area for any complaints against the paperhanger.
  • Look for a member of the NGPP, Inc. Members of this association must be craftsmen and women who hang paper for a living.
  • Ask your wallcovering consultant (or local showroom) to recommend installers who specialize in your project type.

Second, solicit two or three bids for the work you need done. Do not blindly accept the lowest bid. Ask why a bid is as low or high as it is. A higher fee may be worth the extra services or better quality product provided. Make sure you understand precisely what the installer will do and what materials are necessary to complete your project successfully.

What Needs to be in Writing

Feel free to obtain a list of references from the prospective contractor.This list should include the contact person, address, and telephone number of at least three previous clients. Follow up on this list with a phone call. Remember contractors will not offer a bad reference. Therefore, ask references if they know of any other work the contractor has performed. Be sure to ask whether the contractor and its employees treated clients professionally and with respect. Requested references should be from projects similar in size and scope to the current project. Also, projects should be at least a few years old. This will help gauge the performance of the both the installation and the materials used. If possible, try to see the work that was done in person.

A professional paperhanger carefully prepares a comprehensive plan, estimating costs based on material, labor and experience specifications. A reputable wallcovering installer will not give you a sketchy, hastily-prepared proposal.

You should detail exactly what you want from the installer. This can include protection of your household goods, office equipment and areas surrounding the job site as well as daily clean-up or clean-up upon completion of the project. Clean-up is sometimes an additional labor cost for the installer, so it may slightly increase the cost of the job.

Be certain that you or your decorator specify all the materials to be used. Your installer will do the same so that these details (measurements, pattern names, brand names, quantity and production information) will be part of the contract.

Make sure both parties understand the financial terms, which should be spelled out in the contract. The total price, payment schedule and a cancellation penalty (if there is one) should be clear to both parties.

Any warranties should be in writing. Make sure warranties offered are written into the contract. A warranty must be identified as either "Full" or "Limited."

A Full Warranty indicates that all faulty productions will be repaired or replaced or your money will be refunded. A Limited Warranty indicates that the repair or replacement of damaged goods is limited in some way.

The name and address of the person or company offering the warranty must be identified. Time frames or all warranties should be clearly specified.

All changes to the original contract must be made in writing. Any amendments should be agreed upon by both parties before work is begun or continued.

If the contract upon which you and the installer agree is not complete in every meaningful area, do not sign it. Make sure you understand fully all terms and conditions. Confirm that you are getting exactly what you want, that you know the cost of each item and each service and that you're paying a fair price. If an item you want is not in the contract, you probably won't receive it.

Know all the facts before you sign on the dotted line and before you spend your hard-earned money.

Finally, don't hesitate to ask your professional paperhanger to provide certification of insurance covering workers' compensation, property damage and personal liability. Professional wallcoverings installers are insured for the kind of work they do. This request should be easily met.

To locate a professional paperhanger, visit NGPP at www.ngpp.org or PDCA at www.pdca.org.

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