A good general contractor can be an invaluable ally to any homeowner. When dealing with large-scale renovations or repairs, it’s only natural that you’d want to have the right contractor in your corner. Unfortunately, not all general contractors are equally dependable. While some contractors are an absolute pleasure to work with, others will wear on your patience, compound your stress and deplete your financial resources. To help ensure that you don’t get stuck with the latter, take the following considerations into account the next time you find yourself in need of a contractor.
Are They Licensed?
When shopping around for the right contractor, licensing should be foremost on your mind. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid doing business with contractors who lack licensing in your locale. In essence, being licensed means that a contractor has met the minimal requirements for working in their field in a specific jurisdiction. If a contractor can’t be troubled to obtain a license, this probably doesn’t bode well for their overall quality of work.
If there’s one thing unlicensed contractors have on their licensed contemporaries, it’s lower prices. Since many unlicensed contractors charge lower fees than licensed ones, budget-conscious clients often give their patronage to individuals who lack proper licensing. While this may seem like a good idea, the benefits are liable to be short-term. For example, the quality of work you’ll receive from an unlicensed contractor is likely to be far lower than that of a licensed one. Secondly, an unlicensed contractor is more likely to load your bill up with hidden fees, so going with the “cheaper” option may ultimately cost you more in the long run. To find a licensed contractor in your area, just open up your favorite browser and search for “contractors near me”.
Furthermore, since licensed contractors are beholden to the government agencies that issued their licenses, they have to face a far greater degree of accountability than unlicensed ones. If a licensed contractor conducts themselves in an unprofessional manner, actively misleads clients or engages in any other disreputable business practices, they risk losing their license. On the flipside, since unlicensed contractors are beholden to no such authority, they have very little incentive to not take advantage of clients.
Are They Insured?
You should never give your patronage to a contractor who lacks insurance or bonding. In the absence of insurance, you’re liable to have a hard time getting a contractor to pay for any damage they cause to your property throughout the course of a job. Unsurprisingly, lack of insurance is a very common problem with unlicensed contractors. So, if a contractor lacks licensing, they most likely lack insurance, as well.
Before committing to do business with any contractor, request to see proof of licensing and insurance. If they refuse to provide it, don’t hesitate to take your money elsewhere. Given how expensive many large-scale contracting jobs are, you are fully within your rights to ask for the aforementioned proof.
Do They Stand by Their Work?
A willingness to stand by one’s work is an admirable quality for a contractor to possess. Many contractors will guarantee their labor and parts for periods that range from six months to one year. This helps ensure that if anything goes wrong in the immediate aftermath of a job’s completion, you won’t have to worry about expending additional financial resources.
What Do Previous Clients Think?
Consumer feedback has never been more accessible. Prominent search engines and social media platforms are both great places to find helpful customer reviews for a wide variety of businesses – and contractors. Additionally, there are a number of popular websites and message boards dedicated solely to consumer feedback, so getting the lowdown on a local contractor shouldn’t prove terribly challenging or time-consuming. Should you discover that a contractor you’re thinking about hiring has garnered copious negative reviews, you’d do well to give the job to someone more deserving.
Homeowners work with contractors for a variety of reasons. Depending on the type of issue you’re dealing with, there may be no way around enlisting the aid of a seasoned contractor. However, as is the case with professionals in any field, not all contractors will provide you with the same level of service and professionalism. Luckily, discerning the good from the bad doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. The next time you require the assistance of a general contractor, take care to make the considerations discussed above.