If you need major renovations performed in your home or place of business, it stands to reason that you’re in the market for a dependable contractor. However, as anyone who’s worked with contractors can attest, this is far from a “one size fits all” affair. While some contractors are highly adept at sticking to budgets and work schedules, others leave a lot to be desired on these fronts. As such, it’s in your best interest to learn how to distinguish good contractors from bad ones. Even if you’ve never hired a contractor in the past, making the right choice isn’t as difficult as you may think.
Possessing a License
You should never do business with a contractor who isn’t licensed in your jurisdiction. Putting forth the time and effort to obtain – and maintain – a contractor’s license is a solid indicator that a person is not only dedicated to their profession, but also fairly skilled at it. It’s also important to note that almost every state requires general contractors to be licensed by a state board of contractors. Furthermore, since different states have different licensing requirements, being licensed in one state doesn’t mean a contractor is licensed in others.
Licensed contractors also have a fair amount of incentive to complete jobs on time and on budget and maintain a high degree of professionalism. After all, if they consistently fail to do so, they stand to lose their licenses. In other words, contractors who refuse to stand by their work or prove less than accommodating run the risk of having their licensed status taken away – which can prove detrimental to future business prospects. Licensed contractors are also able to easily pull permits for various types of repairs and renovations, particularly in municipalities that utilize convenient government software systems.
On the flipside, contractors who aren’t properly licensed have no real incentive to conduct themselves in a professional manner or honor promises made to clients. However, they do have plenty of incentive to provide inaccurate quotes and over-promise in order to win people’s business. Since many people are always looking to save money wherever they can, unlicensed contractors are often hired as a cost-cutting measure. Still, given their propensity for poor workmanship, not having insurance and leaving jobs unfinished, hiring an unlicensed contractor may ultimately cost you a lot more than you ever stood to save. So, before committing to do business with a contractor, take care to request proof of licensing.
Under no circumstances should you hire a contractor who doesn’t have insurance. In the absence of general liability, automobile and workers compensation insurance, you’re liable to find yourself held financially responsible for any damages or injuries contractors cause while in your employ. So, before committing to do business with a contractor, request to see proof of insurance. Should this person appear hesitant or outright refuse to provide proof, it’s a good idea to take your patronage elsewhere. Hiring a contractor is expensive enough without having to worry about insurance-related matters.
Positive Feedback from Past Clients
In the age of instant feedback, there are numerous ways to find customer reviews for a wide assortment of contractors. Although many contractors’ websites feature glowing testimonials from former clients, it’s important to remember that no one is going to openly tout negative feedback on websites meant to promote themselves. Fortunately, numerous consumer feedback sites, social media outlets and business directories feature detailed feedback for various contractors.
Additionally, keep in mind that almost any contractor you come across is likely to have a negative review or two. However, if you discover that the bulk of someone’s reviews you find are overwhelmingly positive, hiring them may still be a smart move. By the same token, if the reviews for a certain contractor are predominantly negative, it’s generally best to explore other options.
If you’ve ever worked with an unreliable contractor, you know how relentlessly frustrating giving your business to the wrong person can be. Since a significant sum of money is at stake with most renovations, it’s in your best interest to put genuine thought and effort into finding a suitable contractor. While hiring someone who talks a big game may be tempting, refusing to exercise discernment is liable to leave you stricken with regret. So, if you’re currently seeking out a suitable contractor, take care to heed the advice outlined above.