ARE YOU CONSIDERING A HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT?
Be CAREFUL Out There!
Ride along I-95 at any time and you will see dozens of “contractors” in their vans who advertise “Home Improvement”. While some are certainly reputable, many others are questionable. Here are ten key credentials and some possible “red flags” for you to ponder as you start your search for a contractor “partner”:
- Is the company LICENSED in the State where the work will be performed? By law, the license number must be displayed on all vehicles if there are any markings on it. Without a license, both the vendor and YOUR PROJECT can be halted at any time. These are STATE licenses. Just because a company is licensed in Port Chester does not mean that he can walk a few blocks into Greenwich and work on your home. Get the license.
- Is the company INSURED? This includes insurance for ALL people working on your property. Without this YOU, the homeowner take a big risk on any damage or injuries that may occur. Get the certificate.
- Does the contractor understand AND KNOW the towns permit requirements for the job being proposed? Each town is different. Not getting permits may stop the job or even worse may not be on the property record when the home is being sold, resulting in a transaction problem.
- Is the vendor authorized and factory trained to install the products you are buying? Without this, you run a risk if you have problems down the road and it is determined that the products were installed incorrectly. There will be NO WARRANTY from the manufacturer on the contractors work since they have no idea who that person is.
- Does the contractor have an unmarked truck? This might indicate that it is a part-time venture. You don’t want to have your home in an upheaval for weeks because he is only available on weekends for a job that should have been completed in two days or so.
- Does the vendor have a REAL OFFICE? A STAFF? A SHOWROOM? A LANDLINE PHONE? You want to see and compare exactly what you are buying. A cell phone only is a red flag. Most legitimate companies will have at least two of these if not all.
- Does the vendor have a website AND a corporate Email address? Consumer Email addresses such as yahoo, Gmail, aol, etc., really would not be used by home improvement companies.
- How long has the company been in business? Real home improvement companies will have a long track record of quality service and work; 25, 55, 85 years or so. If not, they would not be around too long.
- Any referrals? Testimonials? There should be lots!
- NEVER ASK FOR OR RECEIVE THE DREADED “ESTIMATE”! These are only guesses and may not be a true reflection of what you will actually pay. DO ASK FOR AND RECEIVE A FIRM PRICE IN WRITING which should be valid for a minimum of six months; preferably at least a year. Also make sure the documents you sign will detail start and finish timelines.