How do you screen a contractor?
Selecting the right contractor to work on your home, especially after a disaster can be a daunting task. When you start the interviewing process, everyone looks and sounds so good with the nice pictures, brochures, and videos. How do you determine which one is a better choice than another? How do you know if you’re getting the straight scoop or if your just being “sold”? How do you know if the contractor you are considering is even qualified to perform the type of work you need done? These are just a few questions to consider before hiring a contractor.
Here are 7 basic tips to consider:
- Check to see if the contractor you are considering has the proper licensing. Check to see if the license is current and that it states the classification and/or trades that the license covers. Check to see if the license is for general contracting, or if it is for a single specialty trade like plumbing, electrical, or roofing, etc.
- Have the contractor provide you with certificates of insurance that show that the contractor carries the appropriate coverage for Workers’ Compensation Insurance as well as General Liability Coverage. Call the phone number of the broker or agent that should be on the certificate to be sure the policies are current and in force.
- Go see the contractors’ physical place of business. Does it appear that the business is legitimate? If the contractor works out of his or her truck and uses a P.O. Box for mail, this should be a red flag.
- Verify how long the contractor has been in business and get at least 5 references of clients that the contractor performed work similar in size or scope as your project. One or two of these references should be projects that are currently in progress. Then go and see these projects and talk to the owners and see what their experience has been working with the contractor.
- Check with local trade organizations, the Better Business Bureau, and any suppliers or financial institutions that work with the contractor to see if they have a good reputation and track record of paying their bills.
- Ask about any warranties or workmanship guarantees, and how long they are good for. Keep in mind that a warranty is only good as long as the contractor is in business.
- Check to see if the contractor has any lawsuits against them. This can usually be done easily by searching the contractors company name and/or the owners names in the public records of your county courthouse. If the contractor has a lawsuit history, this may also be a red flag.