Everything you need to know about dealing with contractors in Maine

The BDN is exploring Maine’s housing crisis from every possible angle, from how it affects home prices, to what it means for Mainers across the state. Read our ongoing coverage here and fill out this form to tell us what you want to know.

Hiring reliable contractors and dealing with their work afterward topped your responses when we asked what you wanted to know about the challenges of home ownership.

Home maintenance is a top concern among Mainers, who have the highest rate of homeownership in the Northeast at 73 percent of homes in the state being owner-occupied. At the same time, the housing boom has stretched out contractors’ schedules, making it harder to get responses if the roof leaks or the furnace goes.

Jennie Gavin-Tremblay of Bangor found that out when she needed a roof repair. Only one of the five contractors she contacted responded. It took eight months to get a metal roof leak fixed on the house she has lived in for six years. She still is having trouble finding someone to do other repairs on the house, including reframing doors and repairing the stairs.

Steph Barrett of Belgrade has struggled to find a contractor to replace her failing septic system and finally found one. But with a cost topping $22,000, she wonders how to know if the new design is a good one for the home where she has lived for 20 years. She also wonders if the price is too expensive and whether she is “getting hosed.”

Here are answers to their questions and others we have fielded on the topic, ranging from how to search for a contractor to how to assure their work is good and what to do if it is not.

How should I budget for maintenance and repairs as my home ages?

Owners should set aside around 1 percent to 4 percent of their home’s value for annual maintenance and repairs, or from $3,000 to $12,000 for a home valued at $300,000, according to insurance company State Farm.

Replacing an asphalt roof can cost up to $11,000, and a furnace can run about $6,000.

It can be costly to delay maintenance. A fixable problem can turn into something unrepairable over time.

How can I find a contractor?

Referrals from friends, family and neighbors who know the work of the contractor they are recommending are a good start. If you need a roofer, and one is working in your neighborhood, look at their work and talk to them.

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