Hiring a Qualified, Legitimate Contractor
By Kimberly Martin on 2 May 2014
Atlanta — Entrusting a stranger to work on your home in any way is typically a scary process. What if they don’t do the job correctly and leave you with poor workmanship or in an even worse predicament than before they arrived? Scary stories from the news about contractors that took money and ran only add to the fear. Many people don’t like the idea of entrusting their projects to someone unknown, so they tend to either attempt the project on their own, call up a friend who’s handy with a hammer, or simply put the problem off until it gets worse. However, it isn’t as difficult as it seems to hire a contractor who is qualified and trustworthy to handle the job—you just have to use proper, discerning measures, and we have listed a few of the most important steps to make your job a little easier.
- The number one and most important step is to ask to see their license. Any contractor worth your time will be licensed and more than happy to show you their credentials. The license should also be for the job in question—don’t hire a licensed flooring expert to work on your roof unless they have a roofing license as well. Furthermore, check that the license is valid and not expired. Each state has a website for looking up a contractor’s license number and validating their credentials, so do some quick research to save you a possible headache in the future.
- Look up a contractor on a qualified reference site like the Better Business Bureau. These sites document all customer complaints, issues, court disputes, and more that surround a business. If you find a bad rating and several issues flagged by the BBB on their site, it would be wise to pass up that contractor and move on.
- Furthermore, also look up the contractor’s business on other customer review sites like Angie’s List, Yahoo!, and Snehta. Customer experiences are one of the best ways to get honest reviews on a business’ services. While it’s true that some contractors make fake reviews on these sites, any quality contractor will have several reviews to work with rather than one or two suspiciously perfect, 5-star reviews. Use your own discernment!
- Ask family and friends for recommendations. Similar to looking up customer reviews, asking family, friends, and neighbors for contractor recommendations will typically give you a trustworthy, successful expert. They have already completed quality jobs for the people you asked, so you can already have peace of mind that they know what they’re doing.
- Ask the contractor for references. As you can probably tell by now, references and reviews are very important to a contractor’s success. As such, a worthy contractor will have compiled a list of past or recurring customers that act as references for their business quality and will be more than happy to provide you with the list so you can speak with those customers personally.
- Make sure they have insurance. This is especially true for contractors involved in potentially risky businesses like electrical work or dangerous tree removal. Contractor insurance covers any possible on-site accidents during the job process—if these accidents occur on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, the money for the accident will be coming out of your pocket.
- If a project seems like it needs a building permit, ask the contractor to get one. It is the contractor’s responsibility to provide the appropriate permits for a project—not yours. This will prevent possible issues with any city, county, or state laws on possible construction work. If a contractor is unwilling to acquire permits or tries to work around them, it’s time to look elsewhere for your contracting work.
- Request a company business card, especially if your contractor comes from a larger business. With contact information you can call up the company and inquire about the contractor on the job and make sure they are legitimate if you have concerns. Furthermore, a contractor should always have a physical address so you can visit their business and make inquiries face-to-face if you wish. Any contractor that is reluctant to fully disclose contact information to you or that does not have a physical business location is a red flag.
- Get everything in writing. All payments, deadlines, job promises, etc. should be in writing in the form of a contract. You will be able to rest easier knowing that if anything in the project process appears fishy or goes awry, you have a contract to fall back on and sort out any possible issues.
- A legitimate contractor won’t ask for up-front payment. Contractors work off of your money for a project’s funds, so set up a payment plan to provide them the appropriate money in increments during the process to complete the work. If a contractor insists you give them a huge investment up-front for the project, it is time for you to exercise caution.
Overall, never hire a contractor that makes you uneasy or sends up red flags. If a contractor tries to scare or pressure you by using phrases like “that’s going to collapse any minute” or “these pipes are going to burst and flood your basement” as a way to coerce you into hiring them, back away. Furthermore, if a contractor tries to rush you, the job, or the payment process, this is another bad sign. Exercise discernment when hiring a professional to work on your home. If you follow the steps we have offered and pay attention to your instincts and common sense, you’re sure to find a professional that’s trustworthy to complete your job. Snehta’s site helps you locate contractors for any home service job—contractors who are licensed, insured, and otherwise qualified to do your job. Let us help you locate a professional who can complete your job and give you peace of mind.