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6 tips for hiring and working with contractors



Spring is the perfect time to start the improvements you've been thinking about all winter. But what begins as a dream project can quickly become a nightmare. Just ask Keller-Brown customer, Charles. He recently renovated a bathroom in his home in northern Maryland when a leak caused it to "rain in the kitchen."

"It was a good idea then," Charles said. "A local craftsman came to do some work for me, and when we talked in small talk I said I was going to do a bathroom renovation upstairs. His eyes lit up and he announced that he was doing bathroom renovations! As a first time homeowner, I was excited and I jumped at the chance in my new house and we closed a deal. The demolition started the next day. "

When the work was done, Charles was happy with the look of his new bathroom and received many compliments – he was ready for his next project!

Then the plans were changed.

It started with one drop … then two … and so on. Suddenly before his eyes, Charles got several even streams of water from the newly renovated bathroom to his kitchen. "I was rushing for buckets," he said. "The damage occurred and I spent a sleepless night emptying buckets of water to prevent further damage, even after I closed the main valve." to action. Sarah was able to report the claim to the insurance company and connect the homeowner to a water restoration company. Cleaning work started within an hour. "They did a fantastic job," Charles said.

With water claims, delays in decontamination can result in subsequent mold damage. Keller-Brown has worked with several restoration companies that have a reputation for quick response and high-quality work. In a very stressful time, the ability to refer trusted restoration contractors can provide peace of mind when customers do not know who to call for help.

At Keller-Brown we know that your home is not only your protection, it is your refuge. This is why when you are ready to make improvements, you do not want anyone to work on it. Whether you are considering a minor makeover or a complete renovation, consider these tips to evaluate potential contractors before writing on the dotted line.

1. Find an Entrepreneur You Can Find t – The best way to find an entrepreneur you can trust is to talk to your neighbors. Are you considering remodeling your kitchen? Chances are you know someone who has done it. If you are new to the neighborhood, an app like Nextdoor – a social network for neighbors – can be a great place to ask for recommendations. The Better Business Bureau can also provide valuable information, for example if a specific contractor has received a consumer complaint. Once you have narrowed down the list of potential contractors, ask them for a list of references that you can call to confirm the quality of their work.

2. Make sure the contractor is fully licensed – Hire a contractor licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) in Maryland. To verify a license, call MHIC at (410) 230-6309. Pennsylvania residents are protected by the State Home Improvement Act (HICPA), which requires contractors to register with the Attorney General's office. In addition, "these contractors must maintain the minimum insurance coverage and use contractors that meet a number of consumer protection requirements set forth in this Act."

You can visit the Department of State website to confirm that the contractor is registered in Pennsylvania. Of course, registration with HICPA or licensing through MHIC does not speak for the contractor's competence or competence level.

3. Make sure the contractor has the right insurance – If your contractor has employees, it is crucial that the contractor has a correct and sufficient labor insurance. It is also important that they have general liability and company car insurance. Request insurance certificates (COIs) and keep them in your files. COIs are issued by an insurance company or broker and summarize important aspects of the contractor's insurance.

4. Verifying Insurance for Every Contractor or Subcontractor – Verifying Everyone's Insurance Sounds like a lot of work when all you're trying to do is make some improvements to your home, but this step should not be overlooked. Requesting COIs from all contractors and subcontractors gives you peace of mind.

5. Request a written estimate before work begins – Do not be shy when asking the contractor for a written estimate. In Pennsylvania, it's the law. Thanks to HICPA, contractors must provide "an initial cost estimate to the owner before any home improvement is improved." In addition, according to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, "the cost of the services to be performed during the time and the material provided may not exceed 10% above the dollar value stated in the original cost estimate."

6. Do not get stuck with unfinished work – Although the majority of contractors are honest and want to do a good job for you, some homeowners have paid their contractors in full to never see them again, even if the job is incomplete. The best way to prevent this from happening is to pay the contractor when the work is done. not in a lump sum at the beginning of the project. The Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Act states, "If a contract is more than $ 5,000, the contractor cannot accept a deposit greater than one-third of the contract price, or one-third of the contract price plus the cost of special order materials." Make the final payment to the contractor when the job is ready and both you and the contractor agree that all work is ready according to the specifications in the contract.

Whether your next home improvement project is large or small, these tips will help you find the right contractor for your home. And remember, if problems arise, Keller-Brown's help is simply a phone call away.

For more helpful guidelines to ensure you make the best choice when hiring a contractor, request our resource "Tips for hiring contractors" by sending an email to Sarah Brown at sarahb@keller-brown.com.

When your home improvement project is complete, it may be time to update your insurance. More information on when to report updates to your insurance agent can be found in this article.

  Keller Brown - 6 Tips for Hiring and Working with Entrepreneurs


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