Do you cringe at the thought of hiring a contractor? We get it, everyone seems to have a horror story to share. But if you’re prepared and do your due diligence, hiring a contractor can actually be a rather pleasant experience!
Consider the following when hiring a contractor:
1. How did you find them?
When searching for a contractor, the first thing you should do is to ask people you trust for a referral. If you aren’t able to get a referral, it’s time to call on our good pal, Google. Pay close attention to user reviews. They’re the next best thing to an in person referral.
2. Are they reputable?
With a referral, you can usually trust that a contractor is reputable. But we’d still encourage you to pay attention to their overall reputation. How long have they been in business? What do their online reviews say? Can you find examples of their work? Do they look legitimate?
3. Are they licensed, insured, and bonded? And better yet, what do those things even mean?
Some trades require a residential contractor’s license within the state that they provide services. For example, masons and painters are required to have a license. You can find more information and verify if your contractor is licensed in South Carolina HERE or in North Carolina HERE.
Some trades are required to be registered with their respective professional boards within their state. Example here would be an accountant, barber, or dentist.
Every trade contractor that you wish to employ to provide services on your property should be fully insured. This means they should hold liability, worker’s comp, and auto insurance policies. Any respectable company that you’re considering doing business with should be willing to provide you with a copy of their insurance if you ask. And you should ask.
There are many types of bonds, but fidelity and surety are the most common. A fidelity bond protects you in case a contractor’s employee steals something from your home. These types of bonds typically apply for any contractor entering your home. A surety bond protects the customer in the event that a contractor does not or can not finish a project. These types of bonds typically apply to commercial or governmental projects.
4. Who is coming to your house?
It’s important to ask the contractor who exactly will be performing the service. Do they do the work themselves? Do they subcontract the project out to other companies or individuals? Find out who you should expect to come to your home. If the contractor is subbing out the project, make sure those individuals are properly insured. It’s important to ask these questions!
For instance, all of our employees are on our payroll, and we take full responsibility for their actions and behavior while on a project. Bonus fact: all but one of our employees are actually firefighters who work on their days off.
5. Do you need a contract?
Probably. A contract is simply an agreement put in place to protect not just the contractor, but you as well. It should include the details of the project (what you’re getting), how much the service costs, when payment is expected, hours work will take place (do you want to be woken up to a saw at 7:00am on a Saturday?!), when work will begin, the date of expected project completion, and any other important details pertaining to the scope of your project.
You don’t have to dread hiring a contractor. Just by asking these simple questions, you’ll find that you feel much more comfortable with the service being provided and with the individuals providing the service. Protect yourself and your home and make sure you’re hiring the right people from the start!