When selecting a contractor, it is vital to know as much as you can about the contractor’s qualifications, experience, and reliability. These are just a few of the questions you should ask when hiring a contractor for your home improvement or home repair project.
Is the contractor licensed in your state/county/city?
Some states need contractors to have a license, while others will accept trade organization membership, job experience, and education credits instead of a permit. If the contractor is licensed, you can verify their credentials by calling your state licensing board, or by visiting the license board’s website (available in most states). Also, the requirements vary from state to state, so it may be helpful to know whether the contractor was required to pass a licensing exam, or just pay a fee for the license.
Is the contractor a member of any professional trade organizations?
If so, you can verify that the membership is in good standing. Membership in a professional trade organization is often a sign that the business is well established and stays informed of current trends within the industry.
Is the contractor well insured?
Most states require contractors to maintain certain insurance levels as a condition of the license, and you can often view insurance information on the state’s website (in the same place you verify the contractor’s license information). You should verify that the contractor has at least general liability coverage (property and injury), workmen’s compensation coverage, and automobile coverage.
Is the contractor familiar with current building code requirements?
The contractor should be familiar with building code requirements for your area and should know what permits will be required. Any contractor that doesn’t seem to know the current building codes and permit requirements should be avoided, especially if the contractor suggests shortcuts or other methods of circumventing the permit system.
Does the contractor have references and a portfolio of previous work?
Contacting previous customers is an excellent way to verify the reliability of the contractor and the quality of work that you can expect. Also, a portfolio of previous jobs with detailed photos can help you see the quality of work that the contractor is capable of.
How long has the contractor been in business?
A contractor that has been in business for several years will be more stable, with less risk of sub-standard work or leaving a job unfinished. It can also be helpful to verify the contractor’s financial standing via a bank reference, to insure the contractor will have the means to pay for supplies and materials.
The answers to these questions will be a good start towards finding a qualified contractor to help you with your home repair or home improvement project. If you take the very time to find the most qualified contractor, the result will be worth the extra effort. With so many contractors offering their services these days, homeowners can be discriminatory and demanding, and they don’t have to settle for any contractor that isn’t up to par.