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Protect Yourself by Asking the Right Questions Before Hiring a Contractor

While it's important to evaluate the quality of supplies being used, it's equally if not more important, to carefully screen potential contractors to ensure that you're working with a reputable professional who will follow through on the work agreed upon in a timely, safe & ethical manner. When getting a construction bid, we encourage you to meet with professionals to understand their credentials and the scope of the work they will be performing. Below are some questions you should ask prior to hiring a contractor.

1) Have you ever done business under a different name? It's important that you pay attention to how this question is answered, as it is very unlikely that a business that has operated under a different name is going to be willing to talk about it. When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Public Safety to ensure that you are protected.

2) What is your license number? In MN & WI, every contractor must register with the state in order to do business. Having a contractor's license number allows you to verify whether or not any claims or judgments have been passed against them. This also can show if the owner owned another home improvement business under a different name.

3) What type of warranty do you provide? Most projects won't fail within the first year. It's important to work with an established company who has been in business for some time. They have a reputation to uphold and will likely do anything they can to warranty a malfunction. It's important to get this warranty in writing so that you and the business each have evidence of the kind service that will be provided in the event that a warranty is needed.

4) How can I get in touch with you? Don't neglect to ask this question. It's important to get a physical business address along with business phone and cell phone of the contractor you're working with. If they're only willing to give you a cell phone and a PO Box, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. These are warning signals that you may not be able to reach the contractor in a few years if something goes wrong with the project.

5) Can I have a copy of your insurance policy? You should always ask for a copy of a contractor's insurance policy; not only to make sure that they do carry insurance, but what kind and how much. You want to make sure that their insurance not only covers your property but also a good amount of worker's compensation coverage. If the contractor is not properly insured, you could be liable for any accidents or injuries that happen to the crew while on your property.

6) Do you have references that I can contact? Written & verbal references allow you to get a sense of what others experienced when they worked with the contractor.

7) How many projects like mine have you done in the last year? In the same way that you wouldn't call a podiatrist for a headache, it's important to work with a contractor that specializes in the type of work you seek. Just because a company specializes in sealcoating, doesn't mean they are the best people to install your siding. Asking how many similar projects a contractor has done in the past year will assist you in determining if you are working with the correct business. It also ensures that you are dealing with a contractor that is an expert in your type of project, not just one who dabbles in a little bit of everything. Often, issues with installation are not immediately evident. Reduce your chances of having these issues by working with a professional who is an expert on your type of project. n

Article provided by Andy Lindus,

Lindus Construction