Get a copy of the company’s license.
As a homeowner, you want to verify that the professional you are hiring has a license that is active. Note that different states have different policies about licensing based on job pricing. For example, in Florida, there are two license types: registered and certified. Someone who is registered can work at the local level, whereas someone certified is able to work anywhere in the state. You can find more details on licensing on Florida’s DBPR website.
Confirm that the service professional is valid and works for the company.
It is important to make sure the service professional you are speaking with is an authorized agent of the company. Make sure to write down the person’s name and phone number when you first contact the company to have as a reference when you call back. Also make sure whoever you talk to gives you information that is common knowledge among everyone on the project. Having good communication helps everyone stay on the same page, and decreases the chances of misunderstanding between the company and you.
Get proof of insurance
We advise to ask for a copy of the company’s insurance certificate to verify that the policy is still good and to verify with the insurance company. The general liability insurance will cover accidents that may occur while a contractor is working. Although general liability is good, there are exclusions to coverage of such plans, and it would be wise to discuss with the contractor their insurance coverage.
Don’t forget to finalize the contract before the project begins!
Make sure the contract between the contractor and you is fully written up and signed before beginning the project. This ensures that all plans are laid out in writing just in case any disputes arise in the future.
The following things make a good contract:
- Company letterhead included.
- Company name, address of company, and phone numbers, and any license plate numbers.
- Includes the name of the customer, address of project, and phone numbers.
- Date written.
- Detailed description of work to be done.
- Dollar amounts for every task in the project.
- An estimated start and finish date.
- Payment schedule.
- A termination clause.
- A clause that protects the homeowner from any issues once the contractor is paid in full.
- Information on permits pulled (if needed) and who will pull them.
Do not pay in cash!
It is best to save all of your receipts, and paying with cash makes you susceptible to scamming since there is no digital or paper trail to follow.
Make payments out to the company.
Handle payments with the company, and not an individual. This will avoid payment dispute issues, and ensure the individual is doing the work they should be.
Do not give the final payment until you’re happy with the project.
Wait until you’re happy after your final inspection to give the final payment. Also check with all subcontractors who worked on the project to make sure they received their full payments from the general contractor. In addition, if you are doing a larger project wait until the final building inspection to pay.
Don’t pay in advance for materials.
Advancing money can cause overspending on unneeded items. It is better to make sure you provide only enough money for items that are needed at the time.
Check as many references as you can!
Before hiring anyone, you should check for as many references as you can. You can ask neighbors who may have used the company before, or check online at sites like Yelp, Google, and even Talk of The Villages for reliable reviews/ratings.
Make note of any changes to the contract
When any changes occur to the original document make sure to document these changes, and have them signed off by both parties. It will help keep things organized, and have everyone on the same page.