Buyer Beware: How to Protect Yourself When Hiring a Home Contractor
This article is the second in a two-part series. Part One discusses the reasons professional contractors cost more than a random guy with a truck. Part Two provides guidelines for hiring a home-services contractor.
Be sure to select a qualified, licensed, and insured contractor.
Hiring a licensed and responsible contractor means:
- That individual or company has been properly trained.
- The entity is legally recognized.
- They are obligated to meet city and federal codes and standards, including securing required permits for all work being performed.
- The company has certificates of workers’ compensation and liability insurance
- The work is guaranteed.
Do your homework – check on previous work.
- Ask questions – have they done projects like yours in the past?
- Request client testimonials.
- Reputable firms should be able to provide references from previous customers.
- You can also refer to online reviews on the company’s website, or on sites like Google, Facebook, Angi, or the Better Business Bureau.
- Make sure you see proof that they are licensed, bonded, and insured.
Be smart about payment.
Don’t pay upfront. A deposit to a licensed, accredited firm is one thing. Paying an independent contractor – or a friend of a friend doing you a favor – leaves you open to risks such as that person absconding before the work is completed or doing less than quality work. Some guidelines to consider:
- Don’t pay more than 50% upfront. For smaller projects, expect to pay a small deposit, with the balance due upon project completion.
- For larger projects, consider making payments as the work is completed in stages over time.
- Pay with a check or credit card that can be traced or disputed if the work is not done properly or is not completed.
Communicate with your insurance company.
You should report any plans to renovate your home to your homeowner’s insurance company. Upgrading your home might also mean you need upgraded coverage. Your existing policy might not match the increased value of your home once the project was completed.
By following these steps in hiring someone to do your home improvements, maintenance, and repairs, you might pay more now. But you’ll be covered in the event of an accident, and you’ll have recourse if the work isn’t done to your satisfaction. And, usually, that peace of mind is what you were after in the first place. So, hire right and get it done right – because otherwise, you might get way more than you bargained for.