If the spring thaw has you planning home improvement projects, Better Business Bureau has eight tips to follow before you sign a contract for work around your home.
BBB also offers BBB Business Reviews that can help you find a trustworthy contractor or check out the ones recommended by friends. The reviews include information like the length of time a contractor has been in business and how many complaints — if any — have been filed against the company and how the company has responded. The review includes a rating from A+ to F, with F being the lowest rating BBB gives to any company.
“BBB Business Reviews are a great resource for consumers,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “BBB Business Reviews include contact information and detailed information on how companies resolve complaints. We’ve also added customer reviews, which can give you a sense of how a contractor pleases customers.”
BBB took 2,051 complaints last year from homeowners about a variety of contractors in eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. Complaints were about the quality of work provided, contract issues, inferior repairs or failure to complete the work. By checking a contractor’s reputation and insisting on a written contract, property owners can avoid many of these problems.
BBB’s Request A Quote service allows consumers to obtain information from one or more BBB Accredited Businesses. These businesses have pledged to comply with BBB Standards, such as advertising honestly, honoring promises and responding to customers’ complaints.
BBB’s eight tips to consider before hiring contractors are:
- Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.
- Ask about the company’s insurance. Does it carry worker’s compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.
- Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state?
- Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required.
- Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver when the job is completed. A lien waiver is a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor.
- Ask for a contract and read it. Get any verbal promises in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.
- Don’t pay the entire amount due until the work is completed and you are satisfied. Be careful if a contractor wants to be paid in full up front. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials. But the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is complete.
- Always check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.
A BBB video covering the eight tips is available at http://youtu.be/PBn5M8_RkP0.
Consumers may obtain BBB Business Reviews or post Customer Reviews by going to www.bbb.org. Assistance also is available by calling (314) 645-3300.