Tips for hiring a home contractor - do you know red flags?Whether you are looking to have your windows replaced, new siding installed on your garage or a pool built for the summer months ahead, it’s always important to find a home contractor that you can trust.
Whether you are looking to have your windows replaced, new siding installed on your garage or a pool built for the summer months ahead, it’s always important to find a home contractor that you can trust. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) recommends following this smart shopper checklist before choosing a contractor for your home.
In 2011, the BBB received more than 6,000 complaints against general contractors, which was up 11 percent from the previous year. While there are many trustworthy and reliable contractors out there, there are always those unscrupulous few that end up charging too much, doing too little or doing nothing at all.
“You want a home contractor you can trust, so watch out for red flags from those who might be just looking to make a quick buck,” said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB. “Be especially wary when doing business with a contractor who solicits door-to-door. While this isn’t necessarily a red flag, it could mean that the contractor is not local and is instead just passing through and looking to defraud homeowners.”
The BBB advises consumers to follow this smart shopper checklist before choosing a home contractor:
Check out your options. Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest bid may not be the best.
Make sure they are certified and insured. Consumers should ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier and call to verify coverage. Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.
Get everything in writing. Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Read and understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract.
Remember the rule of thirds and follow it. Pay one third at the start of the project, one third when work is 50 percent completed and one third after completion.
The BBB has Business Reviews on more than 100,000 general contractors across North America, available for free at www.bbb.org/search.