In the construction industry, more than 7 million people provide services to individuals and businesses throughout the country. Construction contractors may work for a large company or a small business, or offer their services as a sole proprietor. Regardless of how the contractor structures his or her business, it is necessary for prospective customers to verify they are qualified to do the job.
Vetting a construction contractor takes some time on the front end of any new project, but it is one of the best steps to take in order to preserve the integrity of the property being worked on. Ensuring a construction contractor has sufficient work history, a valid license, and is bonded and insured goes a long way in the process.
Check Their License
In most states, individuals working in the construction industry must hold a license to work on residential or commercial projects. The licensing process for a construction contractor involves passing an exam, providing job history and experience to the state licensing board, and submitting to a background check. Contractors may also have to meet other requirements relating to education, bonding, and insurance. A construction contractor’s licensing information should be readily available either directly from the contractor when asked or through your state’s licensing board.
Ask About Insurance and Bonding
Part of the licensing process is obtaining a contractor surety bond, and in some cases, business liability insurance. With a surety bond, a customer is given protection against unfinished or faulty work should the contractor not deliver on his promise. When work isn’t completed satisfactorily, a customer can make a claim against a surety bond to help resolve the issue. Business insurance differs in that it provides protection against disasters or accidents while the contractor is on the job. However, it may be just as important for a contractor to have in place. Ask for certificates for a surety bond and insurance before bringing on a new construction contractor for any project.
Gather Customer References
A construction contractor should be able to provide some past customers as references before starting a new project. Potential customers can reach out to those references to inquire about their experience with the construction pro, such as timeliness, professionalism, and quality of the work performed. If a contractor does not offer up references when asked, it may mean he or she has not had many successful jobs in the past. Be sure to consider this when hiring a contractor.
Do Your Homework Online
The Internet provides a vast amount of information about construction contractors through several different online review sites. Doing a quick online search of the contractor’s name or business will likely generate some results linking back to past customer reviews. Sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau are a good place to start with online searches, but you may also be able to gather information from contractor-specific sites, like Angie’s List or Home Advisor.
Verify Business Details
Finally, vetting a contractor goes beyond asking for references, checking online sources, and securing bonding and insurance details. You will also want to inquire about the structure of the contractor’s business, even if he or she is a sole proprietor. Ask about business details, such as an address, a website, or a phone number. These may seem like small details, but contractor’s without this information may be less reliable than those who have them.
Vetting a construction contractor is an important aspect of any residential or commercial project. Take the time to go through the steps mentioned above to ensure the contractor you select for the job is ready to complete the work as promised.
Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.