If you’re not up to doing the work yourself and don’t want to go the route of working with a handyman, you’ll need a contractor. Here’s some helpful hints about how to go about hiring or selecting one.
How long have you been in business?
Look for a well-established company and check it out with your State’s Registrar of Contractors. They can tell you if there are unresolved consumer complaints on file.
Are you licensed and registered with the state?
While most states license roofing contractors. The licensing can range from simple registration to a detailed qualification process. Also, the licensing requirements in one locality may be different from the requirements in the rest of the state. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. If your state has licensing laws, ask to see the contractor’s license. Make sure it’s current.
How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year?
Ask for a list. This will help you determine how familiar the contractor is with your type of project.
Will my project require a permit?
Typically a re-roof job does not require a permit but it varies from State to State so check to see if you need one. New construction is permitted and in most cases the local building department has already approved the application of the roof as drawn in your plans. Rather than “wonder” we suggest checking with your local building department with any questions you might have.
May I have a list of references?
The contractor should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask each how long ago the project was completed and if you can see it. Also, tell the contractor that you’d like to visit jobs.
Who will be the supervisor in charge of the project?
The contractor will know which crew, if he has many, which your job is suited to. How long has this person worked for you? This question often leads to the next…
What type of people will be working on my home?
You must ask yourself if you can trust them when your children come home early. Who will need keys – if anyone?
What types of insurance do you carry?
Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current. Avoid doing business with contractors who don’t carry the appropriate insurance. Otherwise, you’ll be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project.
Talk with some of the contractor’s former customers. They can help you decide if a particular contractor is right for you. You may want to ask:
- Can I visit your home to see the completed job? Were you satisfied with the project? Was it completed on time?
- Did the contractor keep you informed about the status of the project, and any problems along the way?
- Were there unexpected costs? If so, what were they?
- Did workers show up on time? Did they clean up after finishing the job?
- Would you recommend the contractor?
- Would you use the contractor again?
Understanding Your Payment Options
You have several payment options for most home improvement and maintenance and repair projects. For example, you can get your own loan or ask the contractor to arrange financing for larger projects. For smaller projects, you may want to pay by check or credit card. Avoid paying cash. Whatever option you choose, be sure you have a reasonable payment schedule and a fair interest rate. Here are some additional tips:
- Try to limit your down payment. Some state laws limit the amount of money a contractor can request as a down payment. Contact your state agency to find out what the law is in your area.
- Try to make payments during the project contingent upon completion of a defined amount of work. This way, if the work is not proceeding according to schedule, the payments also are delayed.
- Don’t make the final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work and know that the subcontractors and suppliers have been paid. Lien laws in your state may allow subcontractors and/or suppliers to file a mechanic’s lien against your home to satisfy their unpaid bills. Contact your local consumer agency for an explanation of lien laws where you live.
- Some state or local laws limit the amount by which the final bill can exceed the estimate, unless you have approved the increase. Check with your local State agency.
Written by: Robert Armstrong