How to Hire a Home Improvement Contractor

BBB Consumer Alerts
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Spring will be here soon and with the season many people plan home improvement projects. Home renovations can be a demanding experience, especially with the number of homeowners looking to start or complete a remodel. Statista, an online statistics company, is projecting $391.2 billion in total sales of home improvement retailers in the United States in 2018. To help safeguard consumers, the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama offers the following tips to help you find a home improvement contractor who’s trustworthy, reliable, and right for you.

  • Research contractors before contacting for estimates. Ask friends, relatives and business associates for recommendations. Check to find trustworthy, local contractors and remodelers.
  • Be sure to obtain written estimates from at least three contractors. The estimates should all be based on the same building specifications, quality of materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. Be certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices rather than automatically choosing the lowest estimate.
  • Ask for a list of previous clients for reference and call the clients to ask about the quality of work performed. If possible, go look at the contractor’s completed work. Also, contact your BBB to determine how long the company has been in business and if any complaints have been filed against it.
  • Check with Alabama’s Home Builders Licensure Board at 800-304-0853 to be sure that the contractor is licensed and/or bonded, if required. A bond may protect you against substandard work that doesn’t comply with building codes; however, it may not protect you if the contractor does not complete the job.
  • Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of an accident. Then call to verify the contractor’s insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.
  • For a large remodeling job that involves several subcontractors and a large financial commitment, you should protect yourself from liens against your home if the primary contractor doesn’t pay the subcontractor or the suppliers. You can do this by adding a release-of-lien clause to the contract or by placing your payments in an escrow account until the work is completed.
  • Before you sign a final contract, be sure it specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor and that all oral promises are also included in the written contract. Be suspicious if you’re asked to pay for the entire job in advance. The down payment should be no more than one-third of the total contract price.
  • Don’t sign a completion certificate for the job until after it has been inspected by local building authorities and properly completed according to the contract.

Source: BBB of North Alabama and Statista

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