You’ve heard the horror stories of homeowners shelling out thousands of dollars for projects that end up cracked, or not completed at all. There are many people that try to scam unsuspecting customers because of their lack of observation or research skills. Don’t be a victim, but empower yourself about the construction industry to find a fantastic contractor that takes pride in his work.
Check Licensing and Insurance
Every quality contractor has a current license and insurance. Ask for the information, and copy it. Call the local licensing agency and the insurance company. Check that the contractor has a current policy, and even the history. If a contractor has been licensed for 10 years, for example, they have been in business long enough to generate great projects for multiple clients.
Take time out of your busy schedule, and talk to friends or family about their contractor experiences. Word-of-mouth is still a powerful thing. One bad experience can tell you that you should move on to other contractor bids. It is even more beneficial to talk to local tradespeople. Roofers and plumbers, for example, know contractors through their daily rounds. Ask you favorite plumber about their suggestions for a contractor. You may find a diamond in the rough with this referral strategy.
Beware of Cash Red Flags
Quality contractors take both cash and credit cards. If you discover that a contractor is asking for cash only, you may need to be cautious. They can be completely legitimate if they ask for cash only, but in percentage increments. For example, you pay 20 percent at the beginning of the project, 10 percent at the halfway point and the remaining balance at completion. Every contractor differs slightly in their percentage choices, so it is still safe to pay different amounts if they are reasonable. Avoid any contractors that want cash only upfront for the entire project. You are likely to never see them again.
Contact the Better Business Bureau
Official complaints about a contractor are logged at the Better Business Bureau. Call or go online to research a particular contractor. Any issues are plainly listed, allowing you to make an informed decision. They are also graded for even more clarity about their professionalism and expertise.
Permits Are the Contractor’s Responsibility
Ask the contractor about their permit stipulations. Quality contractors want to work closely with inspectors to get the job done right. As a result, contractors usually apply and receive the permits for any property work. If a contractor insists that it is your job alone to apply for the permit, choose another contractor.