Summer is here and with it comes “summer projects.” Here is some advice from USA.gov: Home improvements and repairs can cost thousands of dollars and are the subject of frequent consumer complaints. If you need work done on your home, keep these things in mind when selecting a contractor:
The Rule of 3
Get at least three written estimates. Insist the contractors come to your home to evaluate what needs to be done. Be sure the estimates are based on the same work so that you can make meaningful comparisons.
Check contractor complaint records. Your state or local consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau can provide this information.
Make sure the contractor meets licensing and registration requirements. Your state or local consumer protection agency can help you find out what these requirements are.
Contact your local building inspection department to check for permit and inspection requirements.
Be wary if the contractor asks you to get the permit; it could mean the firm is not licensed.
Be sure your contractor is insured. They should have personal liability, property damage and worker’s compensation insurance for workers and subcontractors. Also check with your insurance company to find out if you are covered for any injury or damage that might occur.
Insist on a written contract that states exactly what work will be done, the quality of materials that will be used, warranties, timetables, the names of any subcontractors, the total price of the job, and the schedule of payments.
Be especially cautious if the contractor:
- Comes door-to-door or seeks you out;
- Just happens to have material left over from a recent job;
- Offers you discounts for finding other customers;
- Quotes a price that’s out of line with other estimates;
- Pressures you for an immediate decision;
- Offers an unusually long guarantee;
- Can only be reached by leaving messages with an answering service;
- Drives an unmarked van;
- Has out-of state license plates; or
- Asks you to pay for the entire job up front.