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THINK LOCAL: Make sure you deal with people who actually live and work in your area. If you’re looking online, some websites do a good job of appearing to be local when they’re really not. Hire local contractors or contracting companies with local offices.
GET IT IN WRITING: Some contractors will give you verbal estimates or scrawl notes on a paper that doesn’t identify who will do the work. Insist on written estimates on company letterhead.
Handyman Connection, a leading North American network of home repair and remodeling contractors, recently released guidelines to help people avoid the pitfalls of finding and hiring a contractor for home improvement projects. Follow these tips to ensure you hire the right home improvement contractor:
GET A GUARANTEE: Ask for a written guarantee. Like the estimate, the guarantee is something you’ll want to get in writing. How long do they guarantee their work? A good rule of thumb is a guarantee of workmanship quality for a year.
BE WARY OF CASH: If a contractor only accepts cash, then keep looking. You want contractors you can trust to do business above-board.
CHECK THE PAPERWORK: Make sure all licensing and registration is valid and up-to-date. If they’re not, then they’re not the kind of people you want doing your home improvement projects.
CARD ‘EM: If they’re a legitimate contractor, then they will offer you a business card. Besides the typical contact information, also look for their license number.
PROVE INSURANCE: Get proof that contractors have third-party injury and property insurance. You don’t want to be on the hook if anything happens.
CHECK BOND STATUS: Reject contractors and related trades people who aren’t bonded. Bonding protects you from being held financially or legally responsible for accidents.
GET REFERENCES: Be concerned if contractors can’t provide references from previous customers. Are they hiding something?