Year after year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ranks residential remodelers near the top of their list of most complained about industries. As a winner of the 2017 BBB Torch Award for Ethics in Greater Maryland, we know that not all contractors are created equal. To help homeowners, we recently paired up with the BBB to create a video on what to look for when hiring a contractor. Our master craftsmen have been repairing, updating, and improving Maryland homes for more than three decades. Check out our pro tips now:
1. Are they licensed?
The best thing you can do to protect yourself when hiring a contractor is choosing someone with a valid Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) license to do the work. It is illegal in Maryland to engage in home improvement without a license. Selling services over $500 is a felony, and not having a valid license is the first big red flag when you’re inviting someone into your home. Licensure ensures that companies meet basic qualifications, which includes maintaining a minimum threshold of financial solvency, knowing applicable industry standards, and contributing to a guaranty fund that can compensate you if something goes wrong.
You can (and should!) check the status of a contractor’s license and make sure the contractor’s name AND the company name match the name on the license. Lots of people try to pass off someone else’s license as their own.
2. Check their Certificate of Insurance
Second, ask to see their Certificate of Insurance and General Liability Policy in excess of $1 million. Call to verify that their coverage is valid, and that it actually covers the type of project you want done. Contractors often buy insurance to get the certificate, and then let the policy lapse. It’s not uncommon for contractors to be inadequately insured. A five-minute phone call can prevent a huge headache.
3. Confirm they'll pull permits
When interviewing a potential remodeler, ask if they will be responsible for obtaining permits. Will they schedule the inspections required by your city or county? You shouldn't agree to get permits on your own. Permits tend to cost a bit more and can slightly slow down the process, but it is essential to have your contractor's work checked and approved. If your contractor isn’t willing to do it (or if they ask you to do it on your own), don’t work with them!
4. Avoid handshake agreements
The final critical step of working with a contractor is to get the full scope of work that they are responsible for performing, along with ALL promises and warranties in writing. This proposal becomes your agreement with the contractor and gives you recourse if the work is not completed as agreed. Don’t just accept some numbers written on a page or a handshake agreement. A professional scope of work should be complete, detailed, and based on a careful inspection.
No matter who you choose for your project, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family, and that you know exactly what is involved in completing your project, the right way. Schedule a consultation with Brothers Services today!