In recent months, many of us have seen our share of storms. The more serious ones have left thousands of homeowners with a mountain of repairs. If you are one of those, be aware that scams do occur in the contracting business. Homebuilding has slowed, and less than ethical workers have entered this arena in search of a paycheck. Consider these points before choosing a contractor to repair your home:
1. Appearances Count - When someone dressed in torn overalls exits from a beat-up old pick-up truck, he probably won't be conscientious about keeping the premises neat and tidy. If he can't afford a reasonable form of transportation, can he be trusted to manage thousands of dollars of your money? On the other hand, if a contractor arrives in a sedan without a tape measure, he might not be the person for the job either.
2. Confirm Experience - Confirm that the company has been in the remodeling/repair business for at least 3-5 yeare. During the housing slowdown, many builders turned to remodeling, but may return to building when the market changes. Be sure that your company will be there if you ever have a problem.
3. Insurance - Be sure that the contractor has adequate insurance for the scope of the work. Roofers carry a higher premium policy than a handyman. Should there be damage to a roof before completion (think interior water damage from a storm,) a lower amount of coverage might not handle it. Confirm with the contractor's carrier if needed.
4. Business License - Verify that the contractor has a business license. If not, he probably doesn't plan on being around for long.
5. Get Competing Bids - Obtain more than one bid and compare them side-by-side. Take note of materials, warranties and worker training.
6. Ask for a Reference - Ask at least three previous clients about the quality of work, whether they showed up on time, cleaned up and finished in a timely manner. In other words, would they hire this contractor again.
The best advice is to be very cautious and trust your instinct. No one can afford to throw away money!