If you’ve ever found yourself in a sticky situation with a contractor, you’re far from alone. Regardless of how you ended up there, the next step is the most critical: Finding a contractor you can trust.
Here are 11 tips to keep in mind while you search for a new contractor.
Finding a Contractor You Can Trust
1. Insist on a license.
Don’t accept excuses like, “I haven’t renewed my license yet this year” or “It’s pending.” All of these coverages ultimately protect you, the consumer, with vital safeguards like insurance requirements.
2. Ask for referrals.
One of the best methods for finding a contractor that you like is to ask your fellow property managers who they use.
3. Check with state or county authorities.
They’ll have a record of any complaints or revoked licenses. Keep in mind that any contractor who’s been in business for a while may have a few complaints; what you want to be wary of is a negative pattern on their licensing record.
4. Use a General Contractor Firm.
General contractor’s licenses are more difficult to get. General contractors are accustomed to carrying insurance that protects both them and you, the customer, against damage that may be caused by their subcontractors.
5. Anticipate problems.
Jobs may not be completed as planned for a few reasons: a scheduling error, inadequate manpower, insufficient materials, or an injury on the job site. If you enter each job prepared for the worst, you’ll be more resilient in the face of unexpected issues.
6. Get multiple bids.
This is about more than getting the best price. A variety of bids will set a price range, and set your expectations for how the work will be done.
7. Don’t automatically take the lowest bid.
The lowest price, though enticing, may be because the company is using subpar materials or illegal labor; or they may be skimping on workers’ compensation.
8. Don’t pay for bids.
Reputable contractors will get their fair share of work from their own bids, without you having to pay just to get them to consider your project.
9. Get proof of insurance.
Specifically, you want to see proof of sufficient general liability, contractors liability, and workers’ compensation insurance as a minimum.
In addition, make sure that the total coverage amount is adequate in proportion to the size of the job and the nature of the building. If it’s not, you should feel comfortable asking the contractor to purchase more insurance.
10. Verify liability coverage.
Errors and omissions in professional liability coverage comes in two basic forms: “occurrence” and “claims made.” It’s important to understand the distinction.
- Occurrence: Provides coverage for any incidents or accidents that occur during the policy period, even if you don’t file the claim or issues don’t even become apparent until after the policy expires.
- Claims made: These policies do not provide coverage after the policy has expired, unless the contractor purchases tail coverage.
11. If you’re a landlord, consider a surety bond.
A surety bond is a kind of insurance protection for the landlord. The contractor pays a sum to a bond company, and in the event that the contractor fails to perform, the surety bond company pays a sum to the landlord.
What has your experience been like in finding a contractor you can trust? Do you have any tips for finding a contractor that you like? Let us know in the comments!
Robin Burinskiy is the Senior Content Writer and Managing Editor for the All Property Management Blog and Buildium Blog. She cut her teeth as a marketing copywriter at Wayfair and TechTarget, and she spends her free time perfecting her lifestyle blog, Feather & Flint. She holds degrees in psychology, sociology, and songwriting.