How to Choose a Contractor After a Storm

If your property has faced some serious damage after a storm, you might be in the market for a contractor. But who should you go with and how do you know you’re making the right choice? Follow these seven guidelines to help you find just the right contractor to get your property back in tip top shape.

Get reliable referrals. One of the best things you can do when searching for a contractor is using reliable referrals. A contractor will be around your home for possibly weeks performing work on the home you worked hard for — so you want someone you can trust 100 percent. Ask around your community for recommendations, do diligent research and don’t hesitate to say no if your gut tells you something is off.

Look at work samples. Not only is it important to use references, but getting samples — for example, seeing pictures of finished projects or visiting a project in person — allows you to see the quality and variety of a contractors work. You may even get some fresh ideas for your project!

Get on the phone. Call up your potential contractors and ask them some questions. Be sure to ask if they take on projects of your size, how long they’ve worked with their subcontractors and don’t forget to ask if they’re willing to provide financial references from suppliers or banks.

Meet in person. Now that you’ve made a few phone calls, try to meet face to face with some of the contractors who made the best impression. Remember, they’ll be working in your home for some time, so it’s important that they communicate well with you. Don’t forget to check with your state’s consumer protection agency to ensure they don’t have a bad history with clients or subcontractors.

Delve deeper. Now that you’ve got some key prospects, do a little digging and investigate the facts. Perhaps you can call former clients for a review of the contractors work, including seeing the finished project. Call up those references you asked them for, like the suppliers and banks, to see if they have a good financial standing. Also, head to a job site the contractor is currently working on. This will give you a good idea how they manage their work site and subcontractors.

Make sure they are properly insured and licensed. This is an important detail you won’t want to overlook. Ask for proof of insurance and for the contractor’s license, which you can look up on your city or state’s government website. If they aren’t properly insured or licensed, you could be responsible for any issues, like damage to your property or injuries to a worker. This also shows that the contractor has taken an exam, which proves they know building codes and processes. Also, a license can minimize the risk of you getting scammed. Read more about how to avoid contractor fraud.

Draw up a contract. Come up with a detailed contract that goes over costs, items being installed, estimated start and finish date, and anything you absolutely want to be on the same page about. This ensures that all the expectations are written out and agreed upon. On that note, don’t allow your contractor to start work on the project until they’ve signed the contract.

Now that you have some general guidelines to follow when choosing a contractor, you can be confident that your home’s restoration is in good hands. The key is to ask questions, follow your gut and don’t just go for the cheapest bidder. You’ll be happy you did diligent research.

Check in with your American Family Insurance agent to ensure you have the right homeowners coverage in case the unexpected were to occur. It’s all about protecting the dreams you’ve worked hard for.


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