4 Critical Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire Them
1. Is your company bonded and insured? First let’s break down the two items in the questions.
What does “bonded” mean? By definition this means that the contractor is “bonded” or insured by a surety company that they guarantee or stand behind the contractor’s work that is done on your home. Why is this important? Let’s say you sign a contract with XYZ Contractor for $50,000 to do work on your house. To start the project you write them a check for $20,000 and then the contractor either doesn’t show back up to perform the work, goes out of business or starts the work but decides to leave the job. Depending on what state you reside in you will have rights to collect on this bond for non-performance of the contractor. Every state is different at what point you can file claims against the bond and a construction attorney may be a good route to assist you if it comes to this point.
What does “insured” mean? By definition this is stating that the company has an insurance policy to provide for its workers (or its employees) that will be onsite doing work. This is important for just in case someone gets hurt and say falls off a ladder, accidentally injures themselves with equipment or something catastrophic happens while the worker is onsite.
It is important to ask upfront for copies of both their bond and insurance certificates and not just take the contractor at their word.
2. Have you installed (insert product name) before?
How much experience a contractor or installer has is important to know before signing a contract. This will give you the confidence that the person or crew working on your house not only knows what they are doing but will also be able to finish the job in a timely manner. If the contractor or installer doesn’t have much experience they may still be qualified to do the work but it may take them longer as there will be a learning curve in the beginning.
3. Do you have any references?
A reference check is always good to ease your mind about the installer or contractor. Ask the reference what every concerns you may have and also make sure that the contractor is reliable. You may also check references such as the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List of references aren’t available from the contractor.
4. How much will this project cost?
Make sure you understand upfront what the cost of the project will be before you go into business with someone. You may also want to bid your project with multiple contractors to make sure that you are getting a good price on the installation. Also, make sure you get the final proposal in writing and ask for receipts upon each progress payment you make.