Hiring a contractor is one of the most important steps you make during a home improvement or repair project, according to the Better Business Bureau. Whether you’re looking for someone to do a small repair, or adding an addition to your home, it’s important to make sure you’ve hired someone you can trust to do the job. We’ve pulled together some tips to consider when you’re getting ready to hire someone for your home improvement project or work in your home.
Find a contractor
- Check in with your local homebuilders’ association.
- Get referrals from friends, family and coworkers.
- Compile a list of reputable contractors before you need one. The stress of an emergency might impair your judgment.
Vet a contractor
- See if the trade association(s) where he or she belongs stipulates a code of ethics, minimum hours of satisfactory work and trade exams.
- Check in with your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractor.
Once you’ve selected a contractor, ask for proper documentation and paperwork. For example:
- A copy of their contractor’s license.
- Certificate of insurance for both general liability and workers’ compensation coverage.
- A written warranty for the work they do.
- A list of references from people who had similar projects done.
- A detailed quote that itemizes material and labor.
- A contract detailing the cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations. (Keep this contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the job is complete).
- A receipt. Make sure to get a receipt that is marked “paid in full” when a job is completed and you make the final payment.
Proceed with caution if:
- The contractor asks you to pay the entire balance up front.
- The contractor only accepts cash.
- The contractor avoids giving you a written contract.
- A contractor goes door-to-door or lists a P.O. Box instead of a street address.
- The contractor uses a vehicle that doesn’t list the business name.
- A contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible.
- You have little to no experience hiring home contractors.
- You have a disability or injury that prevents you from accessing areas of your home that a contractor claims are damaged. Ask a friend or family member to inspect the area for you.
- You’re not 100 percent clear about the contract wording, it’s ok to ask questions or have someone else review the contract with you.
Finally, let your Erie Insurance agent know when you’re planning a home improvement project and when it’s completed. You want to make sure your home has the right coverage to fit your needs.