When people are looking for a building contractor, no matter how many marketing campaigns a construction company does, most people will go straight to their friends for a recommendation. This is understandable. Marketing is just that, marketing. You can’t necessarily trust what a company says in its Yellow Pages ad or on its Website. Anyone can say anything in a marketing campaign. So you go to a friend you can trust and ask them for their experiences and if they have any recommendations for who to use or who to avoid.
But while the recommendation of a friend is valuable it may not tell the whole story. A contractor may be a very skilled tradesperson and a friendly and agreeable guy (or gal) and your friend may have had a good experience with them. But they may just be one or two people literally working out of the back of a pickup truck.
This means that on a small to medium sized job where everything goes smoothly they may do great work. But if the job gets larger or should something go wrong they don’t have the resources to take care of the problems.
What to Look For in a New Home or Remodel Building Contractor
That is why, especially on larger projects, you need to look at several points, not just one recommendation.
How large is the company? Do they have the resources to tackle a large project? If there is an unexpected illness or injury will there be someone else who can keep your project moving? Or will you be sitting around in a half renovated home for weeks while someone recovers from a fall?
– This is simple. How long has the company been in business? Some companies claim to have been in business for 70 years or whatever. Often this means that the name of the company is 70 years old but they may not have been continuously in business for that long. Or perhaps no one associated with the business at the beginning is still working there. One good way to check the actual longevity of a company is to see how long they have been registered with the BBB. This is available on the BBB website.
Contractor Insurance, Workers’ Compensation
This is where you have to do your homework. Anyone can say they have insurance and Workers’ Comp, but it is your responsibility to verify this. They may be able to give you their Workers’ Comp number, but if they haven’t paid their premiums then they are not covered. That means that you could be liable for any workers injured on your property. And that’s a hassle no one wants. Always check for yourself whether a) your contractor has insurance and b) whether they are valid and paid up.
The best way to verify a contractors insurance to make sure it’s up-to-date including the Workers Comp, is to ask your potential contractor to have his insurance carrier fax or mail an updated insurance certificate. In the commercial construction world, its very common for contractors to get certs from all their sub-contractors; so the insurance companies are very familiar with this.
It is a daily affair for them to send certificates out to business and individuals. Any honest and legitimate contractor knows that it’s a quick phone call to his insurance people and they will send out the cert to wherever. This goes for Workers Comp as well; all you have to do is ask the contractor to get the certificate of coverage sent to you.
If your potential contractor seems to resist getting it sent or says he will do it if he gets the job, beware. It doesn’t cost him any money to have his certificates sent to you — it’s just a simple phone call.
Ok, here is where the recommendations of your friends come in. But there are also a lot of online tools you can use now to check a company’s reputation. You can just Google the name of the company. A word of caution though: don’t let one bad review taint your whole opinion of the company. Everyone knows that you can’t please everyone. Some people are just plain hard to please. So try to get an overall view of the company from a number of different sources.
Just keeping in mind these simple points will help you to get the right contractor for your project. Then YOU can recommend them to YOUR friends!
Greg Nelson is the owner of Nelson Construction & Renovations Inc. He is a Florida State Certified Building Contractor, creating artistry in all areas of design and construction projects. He is a musician, and artist. A husband and father, Greg appreciates all the wonderful elements of family life.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Nelson Construction and Renovation, Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.
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