Hiring a Contractor
The following information was provided by the Vermont Homebuilders and Remodelers Association.
For more information, please contact the HBRA at (802) 876-6200.
Red flags to watch for:
- Builders soliciting with flyers in the mailbox.
- Builders soliciting door to door.
- Contractors who ask for a signed contract to assess the damage or speak with your adjuster. The fine print may bind you to do business.
- A request for a large down payment or a bid in the entire amount of the insurance settlement.
- You’re told that a contract for this job “won’t be necessary.”
- You’re asked to pay for the entire job “up front” – or pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check or money order to a company.
- You’re told you’ve been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price.
- The contractor won’t give you references – or the references can’t be located.
- You can’t verify the contractor’s business address.
- The contractor says they will show you their insurance “after” the contract has been signed.
Things to Remember:
- Check the Better Business Bureau for a company report or any complaints http://vermont.bbb.org/
- Check to see if they are members of an association like the HBRA www.vtbuilders.com
- Make informed decisions related to repair contracts & costs - Talk to recommended contractors and make sure they understand how to work with your insurance company related to timelines, payments, etc.
- For many, basic homeowners insurance isn’t enough to cover the actual costs for certain major repairs. If you find yourself unable to make your home identical to what it looked like before the damage, set a dollar amount to spend on quality repairs that make sense for your financial situation. Doing so may require some tough design and style decisions. However, don’t choose the contractor with the lowest price based on price alone.
- Be comfortable with the entire scenario being proposed by each contractor you plan to hire.
- Obtain at least three bids.
Before you sign a contract, make sure that it includes:
- A detailed summary of the work to be done
- A description of materials
- The total contract price or how the price will be calculated
Specific timelines and provisions that address what will happen if the contractor fails to meet the contractual deadlines
Recommended Questions to ask Potential Contractors
(Developed in conjunction with Turtle Creek Builders www.turtlecreekbuilders.com )
How long have you been in business? Is your business a corporation, LLC, partnership or sole proprietorship? Are you registered with the Secretary of State to do business in Vermont?
Do you provide a written contract and specification for the work you are proposing?
Do you provide a Warranty in writing? How long does it last?
Who will be assigned as the day-to-day project supervisor for the job?
What are the names of your regular people who will be working on my project? Are they your own employees or subcontractors? Do they get a W-2 at year end?
- Who are your subcontractors for the following trades?
- Plumber (licensed?)
- Heating (licensed?)
What insurance does your company carry?
- Commercial Automobile insurance?
- Workers compensation insurance?
- Commercial liability insurance?
Who is your insurance agent? Can I have an Insurance Certificate made out to me as, the Owner? (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party.)
How many projects like ours has your firm completed in the last two years?
May I have a list of those references and their phone numbers for those projects?
May I have a list of business referrals and suppliers? Who is your primary building materials supplier? Do you pay your bills for early discount?
What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
Are you a member of any national or State trade organizations?
- Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or building, or had an special training or education, such as earning Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Green Remodeler (CGR), Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) designation?