As many of us begin home improvement projects in the upcoming months, it’s important to find a reputable contractor to perform the work. With an increased number of complaints against contractors who either don’t perform or perform work poorly, there are a few important safety tips about which everyone should be aware before working with a contractor.
- Consider only contractors who are licensed and insured. The Summit County Building Department and Summit County Department of Consumer Affairs can confirm the existence of a contractor’s license. In addition to verifying a license, ask the contractor for proof of insurance and Worker’s Compensation certification.
- Get contractor recommendations from people you know and trust.
- Check with the local Home Builders Association, Better Business Bureau, Ohio Attorney General’s Office- Consumer Protection Division, to determine if any complaints have been filed against a contractor. You also can search online for the company’s name with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” Or use online rating websites you trust to see what others are saying about the contractor.
- Check the local court records online to perform a search of pending or closed lawsuits against a company or an individual.
- Get multiple estimates. A written estimate should include a description of the work to be performed, materials, completion date, and the price. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder. Be sure to ask for an explanation if there’s a big difference among the estimates.
- Read the contract carefully. Require a written agreement before any work is started. Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes
- the contractor’s name, address, phone, and license number
- an estimated start and completion date
- any promises made during conversations or calls related to issues such as the scope of work and the cost of labor and materials
- a written statement of your right to cancelthe contract within three business days, if you signed it in your home or at a location other than the seller’s permanent place of business
- Make sure all blank spaces in a contract templated are filled in completely.
- NEVER pay the full amount for the project up front and never make the final payment until the work is done and you’re satisfied with it. Payments made by credit card often allow a dispute resolution process that could help a homeowner recover deposits made to a contractor.
By following a few important precautionary steps, homeowners can safeguard against predatory contractors and ensure their home improvement project is completed properly.
Vito F. Sinopoli
Chief of Police