How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By a Bad Contractor
Tips for finding, vetting and working with contractors from our partners at Erie Insurance
Most contractors are trustworthy and are in this line of work for the right reasons. In fact, we insure some fantastic contractors! However, some scammers pose as contractors and don’t actually have your best interests in mind. You can avoid getting ripped off by a bad contractor by taking the following precautions.
Finding a Contractor:
- Check in with your local homebuilders’ association. You’ll be able to search contractors within your area and put together a list of potentials.
- Get referrals. Ask your friends, family and coworkers who they’ve worked with in the past. They may have a great contractor you haven’t heard of — or know of a few you should stay away from.
- Prepare ahead. The stress of an emergency repair might impact your judgment.
Vetting a Contractor:
- Association check. See if the trade association(s) to which they belong stipulates a code of ethics, minimum hours of satisfactory work and trade exams.
- Search for reviews (good or bad). Check in with your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. Glance over their public company reviews on social networks or other trusted review sites.
Paperwork to See from Your Contractor:
- A copy of their contractor’s license. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state. Check with your local State Consumer Protection Office to view your area’s licensing laws to ensure your contractor is verified and up to date.
- Certificate of insurance. Ask for both general liability, property damage and workers’ compensation coverage and make sure they are up to date.
- A written warranty. You’ll want a warranty for the work they do, the materials used and their workers.
- A list of references. Have they done a project similar to what you are looking to have done?
- A detailed quote. The quote should outline all material used and labor that is expected to be done.
- The contract. Detailed within the contract should be the cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules, building permits and other expectations. (Keep this contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the job is complete).
- A receipt. Make sure to get a receipt that is marked “paid in full” when a job is completed and paid.
- Discuss the need for a lien waiver. This assures you that your general contractor is paying any subcontractors or suppliers they are working with, so you aren’t liable for additional costs later on.
As the Job Comes to a Close:
- Keep records. Keep all your paperwork, receipts and change orders (digital copies too!).
- Snap a photo. Map your progress with weekly photos – or save them for a big before and after reveal.
- Write a review. Good or bad, share details of the work they did, how well they stuck to the timeline and what the finished product looked like. This will help others in their search for hiring a contractor too.
REMEMBER: Trust your gut, do your research and use your head when hiring a contractor.
And if you have questions about your insurance coverage, let Holley Insurance help!
A little more about Holley Insurance…
Holley Insurance was founded in 2000, and retains a core base of loyal clients. We have locations in Roanoke, Rocky Mount, and Forest, VA. As an independent insurance agency, Holley Insurance represents a carefully selected group of financially strong, reputable insurance companies. Therefore, we are able to offer you the best coverage at the most competitive price. Holley Insurance was named “Top Insurance Broker in Southwest Virginia” by Virginia Living Magazine for 2021. If you’re interested in starting a quote online or having us take a look at your current policies, click here!