Updated November 1, 2019 . AmFam Team
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.
These guidelines will help you find a reputable contractor to get things back to normal after a storm. Take a look:
One of the best things you can do when searching for a contractor is to request referrals. A contractor will be in and around your home for possibly weeks performing work, 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.
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 contractor's work. You may even get some fresh ideas for your project!
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 if they’re willing to provide financial references from suppliers or banks.
When phone interviewing prospective contractors, be sure have a list of questions that you can ask each group. This way you’ll be able to compare and contrast each business’ response.
Do your homework online and learn about each vendor’s legal history before you call. Take a look at these questions to ask a contractor before you hire one:
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.
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 contractor’s 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.
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, licensed and bonded, 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.
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.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of a major storm can be a prime opportunity for predatory contractors who only seek to quickly gather a deposit and disappear. Others may show for a day or two, then close up shop and leave town. And that can leave you with a big problem.
To avoid issues like these, be sure to keep an eye out for red flags that may signal your contractor’s up to no good:
Your home insurance is designed to cover you from certain types of storm damage. At American Family Insurance, we’re here to help you restore your home with a simple, guided claims process. Learn more about storm and catastrophe damage claims.
Don’t forget to check in with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) 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.