Ask Angie

How much of a down payment should a contractor get?

 

www.AngiesList.com

Q. I want to renovate my bathroom. How much should I expect the contractor to ask for a down payment?

Anne S., Montclair, N.J.

Down payments are a standard practice in the remodeling industry, but you should be careful about how much to put down. Never, of course, pay the full costs up front.

A reasonable down payment is acceptable. Don’t pay anything, though, until you have a contract that spells out the payment structure. I recommend tying future payments to progress on the job and holding back at least 10 percent until the job is complete to your satisfaction.

Some contractors might ask for a small down payment to secure your spot on their schedule or to help cover early up-front costs, like pulling permits.

There are, of course, some exceptions. If, for example, you are special-ordering a bathroom fixture, or are having one custom made, expect to include the cost of that with your down payment. Your contractor doesn’t want to pay for that up front only to have you change your mind midway through the project, leaving him or her stuck with something custom they can’t use.

New Jersey doesn’t have any specific rules related to down payment limits, so depending on the contractor, you might be able to negotiate how much you pay up front. California, for example, limits down payments to 10 percent of the project price or $1,000, whichever is less. New York requires a contractor to put a homeowner’s down payment into an escrow account, with specific rules about how it can be used, or prove he or she is bonded to insure the down payment. In New Jersey, contractors are required to be registered with the state Division of Consumer Affairs, so that’s something you’ll want to check.

Be sure the details of your project — including payment terms — are spelled out in a contract signed by both you and the contractor. Keep in mind that, by law, your contractor must allow you three business days to void the contract, should you change your mind.

Of course, you don’t want to hand your hard-earned money over to just anyone. Be sure to get at least three estimates and thoroughly research those contractors’ backgrounds before you decide who to hire.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
This impressive and rather rare vase was made in England by a company that was founded in 1820 to make utilitarian items out of stoneware.

    Treasures

    How old is this vase from my great-grandfather?

    Q: Attached are photos of a vase that once belonged to my great-grandfather. It is marked “Coulton, Burslem” and is decorated with painted poppies and a three-dimensional dragon. It is marked with an emblem with a crown on top and the number 1922. It is 221/2 inches tall. Would it be possible for you to tell me how old it is and the approximate value?

  •  
A native ladybug on a firebush in Terri Stephens’ yard.

    Gardening

    The gardener and the ladybugs

    A citizen-scientist documents the ladybugs in her South Dade yard for a research project.

  •  
This patio was made from salvaged Moroccan tiles and the fountain made from an old clawfut tub and a kitchen sink.

    Furnishings

    Look to Morocco for decor that is luxurious, powerful

    Morocco. Simply saying the name inspires images of an exotic and exciting location. I don’t know of a single other place in the world that has that same effect on me.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category