National Consumer Protection Week
March 6th, 2012 by Mel
National Consumer Protection Week kicks off this week, and to celebrate we are going to give you some tips on how to choose a reputable contractor and avoid project pitfalls.
Finding a Reputable Contractor that’s a good fit for you and your project
Finding a reputable contractor is important when planning any home improvement project, but when dealing with major remodels like room additions, complete renovations of older properties, or basement remodels, those who find a good contractor are likely to get better results and avoid many of the hassles that come with these jobs.
Friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members are generally good places to begin your search to find a good contractor referral, the best contractors create plenty of satisfied clients, but they aren’t the only starting point to consider.
For those who are Internet savvy, finding a reputable contractor is a lot easier today than it has ever been before. A simple search engine query will undoubtedly give you plenty of contractors to choose from, and the information you can find about these contractors goes far deeper than any ad in the back of a phone book!
Check out helpful websites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. You can get a very good idea about a contractor based on references in sites like these. And if there have been problems, the Better Business Bureau might have information on a contractor with a bad record.
Make sure to get multiple quotes from different contractors. Not only will you get a much better sense of what the actual price range is for your job but you’re apt to learn a few things too. For instance, one contractor may bring up the need for a detail you hadn’t considered before when talking to the others. Or perhaps another will have a new idea about how to approach your job that may be more cost-effective.
How to Tell If a Contractor Is Trustworthy
When you talk to contractors, you’re not asking only about price. You’re asking how they would approach the job, if they have done jobs of this sort before, what kind of materials they would use, how long they expect the project to take, whether they are bonded and insured and how many other projects will they be juggling at the same time. An interview will also allow you to use your intuition. Does this contractor seem trustworthy? Knowledgeable? You may ultimately decide not to go with the lowest bidder because you can instantly see that a particular contractor has a superior knowledge and working method.
- Have you completed a job similar to this before?
- Do you have a list of references I can contact?
- When would you be able to start the job?
In most cases, the responses you get to these three questions will give you a very good idea of which of the contractors you contacted will be the best fit for you and the project, but the following questions will typically make for a good tie-breaker if you find that you have more than one forerunner:
- How long has your firm been in business?
- What is your permanent business address?
- Are you licensed to work in my area?
- What year was your business initially licensed?
- How does your company ensure that warranty service complaints are effectively handled?
- Is your company insured against workers’ compensation claims, property damage or personal liability?
Any good contractor will be happy to answer any one of these questions, and most will appreciate dealing with a client that takes such an active interest in finding quality service. Any contractor that gives you a hard time answering a few questions, on the other hand, is probably not someone you want to trust in your home or to run your project.
Once you have decided upon a contractor for your project, be sure to never pay up front. It’s a classic mistake. You hand over a check to a contractor before the job is done and the contractor disappears. Avoid that problem by either splitting the payment in half (one payment up front, the balance on completion of the job) or by paying in regular increments. Never pay in full at the beginning of a project.
And lastly be sure to always check in on your project frequently. Contractors work best when they know you are an interested and involved party who wants the work done. So stop by frequently to check on the progress of your job. Checking in also will give you an opportunity to catch any mistakes before they happen and to answer questions.
Remember: always consider your instincts. If your gut tells you something doesn’t mesh with the contractor, you’re probably right and for any kind of project whether large or small you want to make sure you and the contractor are always on the same page.
For more information about National Consumer Protection Week, you can visit this link http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/ncpw/index.shtml and read about other consumer topics and tips.