Hiring a Home Contractor

March 30, 2012 4:24:00 AM PDT
Whether you are looking to have your home windows replaced, new siding installed on your garage or a pool built for the summer months ahead, it's always important to find a home contractor that you can trust.

The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) recommends the following smart shopper checklist before choosing a contractor for your home. The BBB has received 327 complaints for general contractors during this most recent 12 month period compared to 275 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 19%. We received 85,038 inquiries for this 12 period compared to 68,398 for the previous 12 months or an increase of 24%.

"You want a home contractor you can trust, so watch out for red flags from those just looking to make a quick buck," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. "Be especially wary of doing business with a contractor who solicits business door-to-door. This could mean that the contractor is not from a local, established business, and is instead just passing through and trying to scam consumers."

The BBB advises consumers to do the following before choosing a home contractor:

Be picky and have several options. Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best. Get free quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org

Make sure they are licensed and insured. Consumers should ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers' compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier call to verify coverage. Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.

Get everything in writing. Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Read and understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Illinois law requires that a contract be written

Remember the rule of thirds and follow it. Pay one third at the start of the project, one third when work is 50 percent completed and one third after completion. For FREE Business Reviews on general contractors in northern Illinois, visit www.bbb.org

As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.