Hiring a contractor of any sort isn’t something that you should take lightly. Nearly anyone can create and hand out a professional looking business card indicating that they are some sort of contracting professional.
It isn’t uncommon for contractors to go door to door in a business district or neighborhood to drum up customers, and often times those that aren’t reputable will make offers that are too good to be true.
￼There are also many great contractors that build up their client base by going door-to- door, especially in this economy. Often word of mouth is the best advertising, and if they complete an excellent job for your neighbor, chances are, they’ll do the same for you.
How do you decide between who is a reputable contractor and who you should veer away from? Here are five pointers to help you hire a reliable contractor:
1.) Ask for a proof of insurance. All good contract professionals should have a general liability policy. If they have employees, they should also have a worker’s compensation policy. Reliable contractors should have no problem supplying you with proof of these documents.
If a contractor isn’t willing to provide these documents, any injuries or accidents that occur could fall under your responsibility-and that can be very costly to you. ALWAYS verify that any contractor you hire has insurance.
2.) Ask about their deposit policy. While a deposit for supplies and work to begin is standard within the contracting realm, don’t ever consider paying more than 20-30% up front (a larger deposit is usually required for special order materials) for the project to begin. If a contractor requests that you pay a large deposit prior to the job beginning, take it as a cautionary sign.
3.) Ask for verifiable references. Make sure that you get and then check on references provided by the contractor. This is critical to ensuring that you are hiring someone with top-notch qualities. If the contractor that you are thinking of hiring cannot provide references that you can verify personally, this is a huge red flag. The internet can be a place to review businesses and professionals, but sometimes those reviews can be altered or manipulated to make the contractor seem more worthy than they are. Always call to confirm references, and if you cannot reach them, give great pause before hiring the contractor.
4.) Make sure you can reach them. After a contractor approaches you and you request proof of insurance and references, call them. If they don’t contact you back within a day, consider how they will respond once you’ve actually given them your money. The inability to reach a contractor that you’ve hired is often cited as the number one issue among people who work with these professionals. It could indicate that they won’t arrive as scheduled, or are working inconsistent hours.
5.) Ask about warranties. If you’re considering hiring a contractor, make sure that you understand their policies regarding the work that they are going to provide. If they don’t offer a warranty for their work, chances are that is because the work that they do cannot be backed by a warranty.