6 Questions to Ask a Contractor When Hiring
Homeownership comes with a handful of responsibilities, not the least of which is upkeep and maintenance both inside and outside the property. When these projects cannot easily be done on one’s own, hiring a contractor is a necessity. There are countless licensed contractors working throughout cities big and small around the United States, and while most have the skills and professionalism needed to complete a job, not all deserve a homeowner’s business. To ensure the contractor you entrust to work on your home is the best choice for you, be sure to ask these six questions before hiring.
Can You Provide Your Company’s Full Name and Address?
Many contractors work as sole proprietors, meaning they work alone as far as their business structure is concerned. However, that does not mean they should lack a company name or a business address. Many states require that licensed contractors, whether working solo or with a team, have a physical business address and a name under which the company operates. Asking for this information proves beneficial for homeowners as they can gauge whether there may be business registration information available to research and review.
Do You Have Insurance?
Licensed contractors should have some type of insurance in place to help offset the risks they encounter doing business. Insurance for a contractor can come in many different forms, including general liability insurance and contractor liability insurance. These policies transfer the financial risk of bodily injury or property damage caused to you or your home at the hands of the contractor. Ask to see the insurance policy details, and take a moment to confirm the coverage is up-to-date.
Are You Licensed?
In many states and local jurisdictions, construction contractors working on either commercial or residential projects must have a valid license to do business. The licensing process varies from state to state and city to city, and licenses may be required for specific types of work like electrical or plumbing projects. Ask your contractor if he or she is licensed to perform the work they offer, and check with your state or city to confirm the license is valid and in good standing.
Can You Provide Your Bond Certificate?
Part of the licensing process in many states involves getting an appropriate surety bond. There are several different types of bonds that may be necessary to operate a contractor business legally, including a bid bond for public projects, a performance bond for public or private jobs, or construction bonds for payment to suppliers or warranties on work performed. Each bond comes at a cost to the contractor, which may detract them from putting the appropriate protection in place. However, having the right bond as a contractor is a required part of doing business because it protects the customer from unfinished or poor quality work.
How Long Have You Been in Business?
In addition to checking the licensing, insurance, and bonding status of a potential contractor, it is also important to ask how long they have been in business. Contractors new to the industry are not necessarily a bad option for a project, but you will need to ensure they have the skills and licensing required to do the job correctly. It is also important to specify how long a contractor has been working in a particular state or city, in case he or she has had issues with poor performance or bond claims from customers in other locations.
Do You Have Client References?
Finally, always ask for client references when hiring a contractor for a new project. Satisfied customers from previous jobs are a great way to verify a contractor has a strong, reliable reputation in the industry, and that he or she has done similar work to your project in the past. If a contractor is slow or unwilling to provide client references, consider hiring a different professional to do the job.
Asking these question of a potential contractor will help ensure you, your property, and your wallet are protected.
Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer oflink removed. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.