Archive for April 2013

Top 5 Questions to ask potential contractors

By: Debora

I’ve written about this before, but it bares repeating. Choosing a contractor you can trust can be quite daunting as it is a very costly investment, and let’s face it, we’ve all heard the horror stories of non-reputable construction and contracting companies. Here are the top 5 questions you should always ask your potential contractor…

1) Are you insured?

Make sure the company you are considering carries general liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects your home from damage or negligence of the contractor, his employees or any sub-contractors he hires and brings on your property. Anyone can say they are insured, make them prove it with a copy of his insurance certificate, check the expiration dates.

What are the risks? If something goes wrong you have three choices, (1) to pay for the damages and repairs out of your own pocket. (2) to go after the contractor for the costs, which means suing him. Which of course is the where the real problem starts. If a contractor can’t afford to carry insurance what are the chances that he has anything to sue him for? You can get a nice judgment of $50,000 against him, but how do you collect it from a guy that does everything illegally anyways and doesn’t have anything of value? (3) you will have to ask your homeowners policy to cover it. There is no guarantee of course that they will cover the loss. Insurance companies do their best to protect themselves by having verbiage in their contract with you that might require you to only hire licensed contractors and prove the work has been properly permitted. Contractors without insurance usually don’t follow many of the other rules that insurance companies usually require either.

2) Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or other professional organizations?

Well established companies are affiliated with professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. In order to become a member, the contractor’s background and references are thoroughly investigated. While a new contractor may not be a member of any professional organizations, it is highly unlikely an established contractor would not be a member of at least one, unless there is a reason that he cannot join.

Ask your contractor what organizations they are a member of and do your research.

3) Do you use sub-contractors or do you use your own employees?

In recent years, many remodelers have taken up the subcontractor mantle — for trades in particular. But many feel just as strongly that having employees is the model to follow. There is, of course, no right or wrong way to run your business — just considerations of the strengths and challenges of each.

At Crown we opt to have our own employees because we feel our employees are more invested in doing the job by our standards rather than their own. That makes Crown responsible from beginning to end.

4) Do you have a list of verifiable references?

A good contractor will be happy to provide you with dozens of written references. One of the best ways to gauge a companies abilities is by talking to their past customers. Ask them how well the company met their promises, did they deliver on time, and most importantly would you hire them again or recommend them to others?

There are also many different ways to research a companies ratings and reviews through the internet. BBB, Google, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List just to name a few are places you can look for independent ratings or reviews from the company you are considering.

5) Do you guarantee your work?

This is one of the most forgotten questions for customers. You wouldn’t buy a car without a warranty would you? Ask about the warranty and ask if it is in writing. Never accept a verbal warranty of “If something breaks, don’t worry, I’ll fix it.” a verbal warranty will be worth the paper it is printed on. Always insist on a warranty in writing. The warranty should clearly spell out what is covered and what is not and how long the warranty is good for. A one year warranty is the minimum you should expect, two years is better.

What are the risks? It’s pretty simple, with nothing in writing you have no warranty. The moment the contractor cashes your final payment you have nothing to protect you from poor workmanship or an innocent defect.