Almost everybody has heard the horror stories about bad contractors. Most of us have heard the tales about friends, neighbors and coworkers being ripped off by contractors.
This means you have to be very careful even when you are hiring a contractor to do a real simple job like install some baseboard. Fortunately, you can avoid being the subject of the next generation of contractor scare stories by exercising a little common sense and good judgment.
You should take a few basic steps whenever you hire a contractor. Follow these even when hiring somebody for the most basic jobs and you can spare yourself a lot of grief.
Basic Rules for Hiring a Contractor
photo ‘ 2009 Steve Ryan | more info (via: Wylio)
The first rule in hiring a contractor is to always get references. Simply ask for the names of people the contractor has worked for in the past. Then call them and check them out. If a contractor cannot supply references, get suspicious. If possible, try to get references that are people you actually know.
The second rule is to ask around about the contractor. If the contractor is working in your community, they should have a reputation. Ask friends, neighbors, coworkers, and people at church, everybody about the contractor. If somebody has a bad reputation, you will probably hear about it.
The third rule is to get quotes from at least two or three contractors. Something to remember about quotes is that no contractor can make a quote on a task like installing baseboard unless they have actually been to your house and seen the work. Never believe a quote over the phone. Do not believe the quote until the contractor has actually seen your house.
The fourth rule is to get a written contract signed by the contractor. The contract should specify the scope of the job and the cost. It should also say how long the job should take and what the materials will be. Never let a contractor start work until they have signed a contract. Without a contract, you will not be able to take legal action against a contractor.
The fifth and most important rule is to never pay a contractor until the job is completely done. Never give a contractor any money until they have done work, even if they say they need supplies. A legitimate contractor should have the credit to buy supplies. If a contractor starts asking for money before the work is done that is a sign they have bad credit.
Licensing and Insurance
In most areas, all contractors have to be licensed but having a contractor’s license does not mean that an individual is competent or honest. In some areas, all it takes to get a license is to write a check to the right government agency. Always ask to see the contractor’s license and accept no excuses if the contractor does not have one.
Finally, ask if the contractor is bonded or insured. When you do ask to see a copy of the insurance or bonding, do not accept a person’s word for it. Insurance can pay for any damage done by the contractor when installing baseboard.
One more piece of advice, always carefully examine the job and make sure it is done to your satisfaction before paying the contractor. Make sure the work is actually done before you pay anybody.