When hiring contractors, ask about licenses, insurance

23 Apr
Hiring a contract and your homeowners insurance policy.

If you are hiring a contractor, you will save yourself a ton of trouble by doing your due diligence up front and making sure the people you are letting into your home are trustworthy and will do the job you are paying them to do.

Spring has sprung and when the snow starts to melt and the flowers start to bloom, homeowners often start thinking about how to improve their home.

While many homeowners prefer to do the work themselves, some jobs are just too big and then its time to bring in the experts.

If you are hiring a contractor, you will save yourself a ton of trouble by doing your due diligence up front and making sure the people you are letting into your home are trustworthy and will do the job you are paying them to do.

Improving your home cannot only affect your home value but the cost of insuring your home as well. Putting on a new roof, adding a security system or installing a sprinkler system can result in a hefty discount on your premiums.

Check out your contractor

Finding a contractor can be difficult and finding a reliable one can be even harder. Ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations and try to get quotes from at least three different contractors.

Check the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your city. Consider talking with a local building inspector who will have a good idea of which contractors in your area do good work and routinely pass inspections.

Ask potential contractors for a list of references and if they are licensed, bonded and insured. A good contractor should be able to produce documentation for all of these. If they are unwilling to produce documentation, move on, they are not worth the risk.

In order to be safe, it is always wise to check with your local consumer protection office and Better Business Bureau in regards to complaints about their work and to ensure they are properly licensed.

Remember, when upgrading or renovating your home, the best decision is not always the cheapest. While price is always important, using a less than reliable contractor in order to save a few bucks will often end up being an expensive mistake.

Contractors and Homeowners Insurance

Contractors should carry two different types of insurance, liability coverage and worker’s compensation. Liability coverage will pay out in the event that your contractor damages your home, or they are hurt while working.

This can be extremely important as your homeowners policy will most likely not pay out for damage done by a contractor or other laborer unless you have added in-home employee coverage. Your contractor should carry general liability insurance coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence.

Worker’s compensation is a must have. If the contractor is uninsured, one of their employees can come after you if they are hurt on the job. While your homeowners policy would cover the claim up to policy limits, there is a good chance that your premiums will be headed up.

Ask for a list of all subcontractors who will be working on the property. Request proof of valid insurance coverage from them as well.

Before the first day of work, ask your contractor to add your name as an additional insured party on the company’s insurance policy. If they are unwilling to do this, reconsider your hiring decision. If someone (including the construction crew) gets hurt on your property, due to the construction and your contractor is uninsured or underinsured, your policy will be on the hook.

Getting the job started

Once you choose a contractor, be sure you get all details of the job in writing. Include the price but also what work is expected as well as a timeline for the job to be completed.

Experts recommend staying home on the first day of work. Verify that they are doing the work you are paying for and that they are following common sense safety practices.

Never lend a contractor or their workers any of your personal tools or equipment. This could open you up to a lawsuit if they were to injury themselves while using it. A reputable contractor should have all the tools they need for the job.

Make sure your house is clean and safe before the job starts. Remove any obstacles that could lead to a trip and fall. Fix loose handrails and if the weather is bad be sure to clear snow or ice off any stairs that the workers will have to navigate. A fall due to your negligence could lead to a lawsuit.

Stop in unexpectedly from time to time while the job is being done to ensure that safety standards are being kept and the work is going as planned. If possible, try to be present for any inspections to verify that the work has passed inspection and if not what needs to be corrected.

During the job you may decide you would like to make changes to the work. Discuss it with your contractor and put all changes to the work order and the cost in writing. This will ensure there is no confusion when the job is done.

Finally, once all of the work is done, sit back, relax and enjoy your new renovation.

Tags: , , , ,