Home repairs are often a costly investment, and whether you need someone to install an air conditioner, a furnace or fix your plumbing, it’s in your best interest to do your homework first.
Although you may be tempted to hire “Chuck in a Truck” or “Dan in a Van” off Kijiji or Facebook – Buy and Sell pages, it’s well worth your time to do a bit of research and ask a few questions before deciding. This doesn’t mean that there are no legitimate contractors advertising their services on Kijiji or Facebook, but the last thing you want is for the job to cost you a pile of money down the road or even the safety of your home and family.
A professional, certified contractor should have no problem answering your questions, providing company information, including references, quotes and any additional documentation you ask for. Here are nine tips to help you find a quality and qualified contractor:
1. Hire a licensed contractor: If your contractor doesn’t have a license then you may want to choose another. If they aren’t licensed, what else are they neglecting to do (i.e. permits, liability, insurance)? Remember: you can be held liable for injuries that are traced back to work that is not completed by a licensed contractor.
2.Ask for a quote: Ask for an on-site quote, especially for larger jobs, that outlines the work and parts needed. Ensure you understand the costs and fees listed in the quote, which can help eliminate any “surprise” costs once the work starts.
As well, it’s always a good idea to compare costs and quality of the work as the lowest estimate may not be the best option if quality is sacrificed. Spending a few more dollars for better workmanship can save you from frustration and more costs down the road.
3. Say no to a large deposit: If a contractor asks for half of the quoted cost upfront, this is potentially a sign they are an amateur. Professional contractors will typically ask for no more than 15-25% upfront so they can secure their time and work. It’s reasonable to ask for a deposit for jobs that require materials, but never pay a deposit without first drawing a signed agreement.
4. Ensure your contractor has General Liability insurance: Ask to see your contractor’s general liability insurance policy, which should provide a minimum of $2 million in coverage. General liability insurance protects your home from damage or negligence of the general contractor, his employees and any sub-contractors brought onto your property. Keep in mind, though, that being licensed does not mean a contractor is insured.
5. Ask for and call references: You have every right to ask the contractor for references. Consider asking references these questions and others specific to your project:
• Did the contractor treat their home with respect?
• Would they work with the contractor again?
• Did they feel they got good value for their money?
As well, ask for recommendations and read online reviews of any potential contractors.
6. WCB coverage: The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) provides insurance that protects you from liability in the event a worker is injured while working on your property. It is mandatory for most Alberta contractors with wage or salary employees or contractors to have WCB insurance.
7. Is the contractor a member of the Better Business Bureau?: Not all businesses are members of the Better Business Bureau, but those who are, show that they are willing to take extra steps to demonstrate that they believe in “advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business”. In other words, BBB members are willing to go that extra step to ensure customer satisfaction.
8. Does the contractor have after-service support?: Ask the Contractor whether they have a job-completion checklist that you’ll review together before you sign off. And ensure the contract contains a clause that outlines how the contractor will resolve items you feel are not up to acceptable standards. Also, ask yourself if you will be able to find this contractor in the future in case of warranties.
9. Safety for you and your home: A company with certified, insured and background-checked technicians is one that not only values hiring quality staff but also respects their client’s home, valuables and peace-of-mind.
Considering that a contractor may enter and exit your home multiple times over a few days or sometimes weeks, including while you are away, don’t hesitate to ask the company for this type of information, including asking any additional questions that help protect your family and your property.
With the costs of repairs, maintenance or new systems, we strongly recommend that you do your research, together with applying our tips. At the very minimum, we urge you to get a written quote.
As a fully-licensed, BBB member, and WCB- and liability-insured company, Sherwood Mechanical will gladly answer all your questions before starting the job. We also provide added peace-of-mind with security-cleared staff, a clearly written quote and can provide you with a long list of satisfied customers.
Call Sherwood Mechanical today for all your plumbing, heating, or cooling needs.