If you’re an experienced home remodeler, you’ve probably come across contractors who are willing to offer better pricing for cash deals or who are reluctant to provide you with a service contract. Did you know that you can be held liable for hiring a contractor who does not carry the right insurance and causes damages or injuries to another person or even one of their own workers? Saving a few dollars on your remodel can end up costing you thousands so follow these tips to avoid an insurance disaster.
- Look for obvious red flags: Getting multiple quotes for the job is a great idea, but did you find a contractor who will do the work for ½ as much as the next guy? How is this possible? When you’re inviting a contractor to your home, be sure to ask them for credentials before they come over to give you a bid. Following these steps can save you from theft, liability and even money.
- Ask for references: If you found a great contractor and you like him/her, ask them if they have a website or if there is someone who has had work done by them recently that you can talk to. If a contractor is proud of the work they do, they should have several references for you to call. It is okay to ask for reference and most people expect it. Most small businesses survive off of word-of-mouth advertising, so don’t be shy.
- Utilize the internet to look up their license: Contractors are required to have a license to perform work. You can utilize your states resources to find these contractors. An internet search will provide you with some quick references. You can even make your job quicker by asking them to provide you with a copy of their license or number.
- Active License, Insurance & Bond: Ask the contractor for a copy of their license as well as documentation of their insurance and bond. Note: Check the dates on the license as well as the insurance to ensure they’re currently in force or active.
- Get specific: Not only is it important to protect your insurance from a scam, but ensure your pocketbook doesn’t get taken for a ride too. Ask questions like, “Is this an estimate or a final bid?” “Does this estimate include parts and labor?” “Can I see where you’re buying the products beforehand?” The more questions you ask, the better you will feel and the more the contractor will understand that you’re educated on this process.
Let’s take a closer look at what some of these products do:
- License: A license to do business means that contractor has met local guidelines and qualification standards to work in their field. Hiring an unlicensed contractor can result in shoddy work or dangerous results such as with an electrician.
- Insurance: Contractors need two types of insurance really.
- General Liability Insurance: This will protect you from damages that the contractor causes such as a ladder falling through a window, causing a fire or overspray onto a neighboring house during some painting.
- Workers Compensation Insurance: This insurance will protect the contractor if one of his employees is injured on the job while on your property. If the contractor does not carry workers compensation insurance, your homeowners insurance policy might be asked to pay that workers claim.
- Bonds: A bond acts as a guarantee that the contractor will perform the work they’ve been asked to do. For instance, say your pay a contractor to do a job and he never gets the permits or doesn’t pay a subcontractor – collecting from his bond can help cover these costs.
Hiring a contractor this way can be a great option to bringing some new changes to your home. It is possible to really save money on these services, but just using some simple, quick research and asking the right questions can save you a bundle as well as a headache.