According to the National Association of Home Builders, 60 percent of home owners hired professional contractors to perform work in 2011. And with consumers each spending an average of $4,000 per year on home repairs, this large industry attracts a lot of companies—good and bad. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington advises remodelers about choosing the right tools for pricey jobs to avoid costly re-dos of shoddy work.
- Research credentials. Check for permanent places of business, telephone numbers, tax ID numbers and business licenses. Make sure businesses are financially stable and ask for proof.
- Verify insurance coverage. Ask to see copies of liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates. If contractors aren’t properly insured, home owners may be liable for accidents that happen on their properties; ensure that coverage runs through job completions.
- Examine licensing and bonding. Licenses protect consumers and payment bonds will ensure liens cannot be placed on homes if subcontractors do not get paid.
- Ask about reputations. Ask contractors for lists of completed projects and double-check with previous customers. Verified customer reviews on local businesses are available at bbb.org.
- Read the fine print. Carefully read and understand contracts; look over warranties and any provisions that may void them. Once contracts have been signed, make sure all changes are in writing—never rely on verbal agreements.
- Avoid large upfront payments. Initial payments should not exceed $1,000 or 10 percent of total contracts and only pay for work that has been satisfactorily completed.
Consumers should avoid contractors who use high-pressure sales tactics, refuse to give written estimates or contracts, fail to get proper permits or require full or substantial payments before the work begins. Remember, the lowest price is not necessarily the best.
Finding the right company for the right job takes a little work, but will be worth it in the end. Washingtonians can visit Construction Contractors Board to learn more or to find local reputable contractors, visit the BBB Accredited Business online directory. Washingtonians can visit Labor & Industries’ ProtectMyHome page for tips on hiring smart or visit the BBB Accredited Business online directory to find local reputable contractors.