Remodeling? Storm Repair?
1. Proof of Insurance? Don’t be afraid to ask contractors to see his insurance that he or the company carries. Any reliable company will carry what is known as E & O insurance, and if they can’t offer this Walk Away. If they don’t have insurance and there is an accident at your property, you are then reliable for the damages. This is also true if the company hires sub-contractors to perform the work on their behalf. Make sure those individuals either carry their own coverage or are covered under the company’s policy.
2. Photo’s and References: Be sure to ask for at least three references, also good to ask those references if they can recommend anyone else to speak with. Why you’re wondering? Sometimes it might take several layers of people to find out the true story of a company or person. Besides references to call, ask them if they have photos of jobs they have completed. Make sure they can provide references and photos of a similar job you are looking to have done. Don’t speak to references and look at photos on a landscaping job if you are looking to redo your kitchen. If they don’t have any references to back up their work, Walk Away.
3. Payment Policy and types: Make sure you check out the payment policy, what is needed up front and when the balance is due. Also find out if they take credit cards. Not only to earn a few points or miles on your cards, but this also shows you they are financially stable, and has some bank or merchant behind his company to be able to take credit cards. If they don’t take credit cards or demand it be paid in full before starting, Walk Away.
4. Appearance and Manners: Take a look at the vehicle he drove to your home for an estimate, if he keeps his equipment neat and tidy? This could be a good indication of how he will treat and leave your property. If he doesn’t treat and care for his own property (tools) then more then likely he will do the same for yours. Also take note of how he presents himself, is it professional, and do you feel comfortable around him or having your children around him in your home. If not Walk Away.
5. Clean Up: If your project will take several days to complete, find out what their policy is at the end of each day. Do they clean up as if they are finished, or will they leave dust and sawdust till the end. If they plan on the end, remember the more dust and dirt in your home, the more it will get throughout your home, especially if you have kids.
6. Written Contract and Estimate: Don’t go on a hand shake or word of mouth for what’s included. Many homeowners that do this will end up paying more due to items they thought were covered half way through aren’t. Then you either have to pay the extra or have an unfinished job. Get a written estimate or contract before they start, this way you have it in writing what will and will not be covered. Don’t find yourself trapped with a verbal or handshake contract.
7. Time-line and availability: Find out a timeline on when the contract plans to start and finish a job. If they don’t fit into the time-line that you are looking for, then interview others. If you run into the problem that no one can meet your demands, you might want to look at your time-line or expectations, they might be to high or unreasonable.
8. Subs: As we stated earlier about insurance and sub-contractors, find out up front if the company uses sub-contractors. If they do, then ask them for references and photo’s of jobs they have completed. Sub-contractors aren’t always a bad thing, however make sure you do your homework on them also. If they sub out work on major items like plumbing, electrical, and heating, make sure you check that they are qualified and properly trained with the right education and credentials. Many of these trades require a license to perform.
9. Estimate and Billing: Find out upfront what they will charge you for and an estimate cost to complete the job. Also ask them their policy if the job ends up taking more than they thought, do they give you a new estimate. Contractors can’t always for-see some unknown situations they might run into, especially if you have an older home. Also find out how they expect to get paid, and is their any up front cost for the job. Never pay a job in full or in cash.
10. Permits: This is a big one that many people run into. Find out if the contractor will pull permits with your local municipality, electric company, ect. or if you are responsible for obtaining them. Permits will cost you money, and there is more than likely an inspection policy for your local area, this is to help protect you from poor workmanship, or possible risk or damage to your home like fire or flood, and to make sure everything has been done to today’s code standards.
If you take a little time upfront and follow these tips before hiring your “Brother’s best friend” it can save you money and a lot of headaches and problems up front.
- How to Find the Right Contractor for the Job (money.usnews.com)
- Watch out for scammers who prey on consumers after natural disasters (boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com)
- Homeowners seeking contractors and insurance agents following Sandy, beware of scams (whptv.com)
- The Difference Between a Contractors License Bond & Liability Insurance (schaedlerinsurance.com)
- Avoid Contractor Scams, Gouging After Hurricane Sandy (mtkisco.dailyvoice.com)
- Renovations That Yield the Best Return on Investment (money.usnews.com)