Often, one of the most intimidating factors of beginning a home project is finding the right contractor. In fact, concerns about questionable contractors and locating a reputable contractor ranks as the number one reason consumers call the Better Business Bureau.
How do you know you've found, not only a reputable contractor, but the right contractor for your project? Here are some tips for starting your project right!Printable Checklist (PDF)
How do you find a Contractor?
It's arguably the biggest decision you'll make when starting your project. Here are some things to consider:
• Get referrals from family, friends, and coworkers. Especially from those that have had work done themselves and were happy with the experience.
• It's always a good idea to have a list of reputable contractors on hand, particularly those that provide Emergency Services, such as Water Mitigation, Plumbing, and Roofing.
What should you look for in a Contractor?
• While a contractor may claim that they "do it all", be wary of this, as specialty services such as Water Mitigation, Mold Remediation, Asbestos Abatement, Plumbing, Electrical, and Roofing require special skills, knowledge, training, certifications, & licensing. In cases where your project includes these trades, it is recommended that you look for separate contractors that specialize in these fields. Make sure to check their certifications and licenses.
• Look for Truly Local Contractors that call this area home. While Franchises report to a large corporate entity in another part of the country, Local Contractors report only to you.
• Make sure your contractor is established. How long have they been in business (for franchieses, how long has that particular office been in business?)? Do they have a physical office that you can visit?
• Your contractor should be well regarded in their industry. Are they regularly asked to share their knowledge and expertise? For instance, Disaster Blaster is a regular contributor to Connections Magazine, PA Live, The Real Estate Roundtable, and was featured on the popular television show World's Greatest.
• In the case of Water Mitigation, it is important to also hire a contractor that is trained and licensed to recognize Asbestos and properly remove it if necessary. Hiring a Mitigation Company that is unable to properly recognize and address Asbestos containing materials not only risks possible contamination of your property, but can also greatly delay the mitigation process and repairs.
How do you vet a Contractor?
• Check with your local Better Business Bureau and the Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office to see if there are any complaints against the Contractor. In cases such as Asbestos Abatement and Radon Mitigation, where licenses are required, check with the appropriate State Licensing agency to ensure the contractor holds the necessary licenses and is in good standing.
• Make sure that the Contractor is properly insured for the services that they will be performing. Keep in mind that a Contractor's General Liability Insurance Policy is often insufficient, as specialty insurance coverage may be necessary to properly protect you from claims arising from the contractor's work. Companies performing Water Mitigation and Mold Remediation for instance also must have Pollution Liability Insurance. This insurance provides coverage to you should your property be improperly mitigated and mold develops. The Contractor's General Liability Insurance Policy does not protect you from this exposure. Without this additional insurance, you will not be properly protected. The same stands for Asbestos Abatement, as improper removal by an unlicensed contractor could make you personally responsible for the cost of addressing the resulting contamination. Their insurance coverage will not cover work illegally performed by them.
• The Contractor asks you to pay the entire balance up front (1/3 to 1/2 down is customary depending on the project).
• The only form of payment the Contractor accepts is cash.
• The contractor doesn't have a physical office or mailing address. Be particularly wary of PO Boxes.
• When asked, the Contractor avoids getting you a copy of your contract.
• The Contractor goes door to door offering their services.
• The Contractor's price quote appears too good to be true.
• The Contractor claims that some work is "included" in his estimate, but is not itemized in writing.
We hope you found these tips helpful. If you have a need for a reputable, truly local Contractor in the Northeastern PA area, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.
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