People have likely seen horror stories about fly-by-night and fraudulent contractors scamming a lot of homeowners of their hard-earned money and disappearing without a trace. Property owners don’t want to go through these types of situations. And yet, it still happens all the time, especially summer seasons, when more property owners start home improvement projects.
The majority of contractors are trustworthy and honest, but there will always be companies who are willing and ready to run a fraudulent operation and run off with people’s money. So how can homeowners ensure that they find a reputable and reliable contractor? And how do people ensure they are hiring the right licensed professional for the job?
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How to find a reputable contractor?
A quick search on the Internet is enough to scare homeowners into hiring a professional. The Internet is full of fraudulent and horror stories from people who hired contractors who:
Ran off with people’s money without doing the job
Did a substandard job that they need to hire another contractor to fix it at double or even triple the cost
It took at least a month to complete the project, for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in over-budget cost
If your place has recently gone through a storm like a tornado, flood, hurricane, or hail storm, you also need to be cautious with storm chasers. These companies swoop in from out of nowhere to fix properties damaged by recent storms.
While some of these companies are licensed and legitimate, a lot of them are just looking to make easy money or quick cash and hit the road before people discover their fraudulent operation. But there are still a lot of trustworthy and honest professionals out there who will help you with your home improvement projects. It takes a lot of time, patience, and work to find these people, but this effort will pay off.
To know more about common home improvement scams, check out https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/16924-bbb-tip-home-improvement-scams to find out more.
Do some research
Websites like HomeAdvisor, and Angie’s List helps take the guesswork of hiring professionals. These sites are excellent places to start your research. Every website has an in-depth database of home improvement professionals reviewed by thousands of their verified members.
They will help people find the best handyman to do simple tasks like AC maintenance or cleaning all the way up to contractors for HVAC installation and other major remodeling tasks. Try contacting the local building trade association or the chamber of commerce in your area and ask if they know a reputable contractor.
People can also ask their insurance provider, even if they are not paying for this kind of work. A lot of insurance providers have agreements with good local professionals. Not only can people take advantage of its review process, the insurance firm has performed on these companies, but people might even get price breaks based on the relationship between the insurance firm and the contractor. Once the research has been done, property owners need to make a list of three to five highly-rated professionals they want to get a bid. Contact the companies on the list directly.
Get their license numbers
After creating a list of professionals, narrow down the list by calling them and asking for their insurance and license numbers certificates. Regardless of the area in which they operate, every company is required by the government to have insurance coverage and a business license. Having the business license number of the firm will allow people to contact their local municipalities.
At the same time, the insurance certificate will make sure that the company is covered in case something goes wrong. Good companies should carry both liability insurance and workers’ compensation through their businesses. Ask to see their policy so you can check their coverage. People need to keep in mind that these licenses are not the same as contractor licenses.
Every city, state, or municipality has different requirements for contractor licensing. Check out websites that offer licensing look-up feature and check your area’s unique requirements to know what types of licenses to look for when hiring a home improvement company.
Ask a lot of questions
When it comes to meeting with these companies, it is very helpful to have a thorough list of questions you want to ask, not to forget something significant. Consider asking the questions listed below:
How long has the business been in this industry?
Ask them for proof of their tenure since some fraudulent companies will claim that they have done this for 10 to 20 years when they were actually only doing this for one or two months.
Can they provide at least three recent references?
The keyword is recent. Reputable companies need to be willing and ready to share the contact information of three to five homeowners they have worked with over the past year. If they provide old references, there is a big sign that their work quality has dropped.
What payment schedule do they require?
Remember that an honest home improvement firm will never ask their clients for a full project amount upfront, but some, if not all, will ask for a small amount as a deposit, and the regular payments are paid as the project goes on. Ensure that as a homeowner, you know when to pay and how much the payment will be.
To find out more about liability insurance, click here for more information.
Will the same professionals work on the project every day?
If you are interviewing the firm, ask them who will be working or showing up at your property every day. What type of vetting process do they use when hiring their subcontractors? Will it be the same people every day, or will different teams show up every other day? Find every detail, so you know who or what to expect.