How to find and work with a trusted basement contractor

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If your basement is leaking or suffering from foundation issues, it could lead to flooding or water damage after spring storms. BBB has tips to help you find a quality contractor for your basement.

Spring weather in the Midwest can be all over the map, and it typically involves a lot of rain. Because the ground freezes in the winter in our region, it’s common for homes to be built on a basement foundation. The higher-than-average amount of basements coupled with intense storms can cause demand for waterproofing and remediation contractors to skyrocket during the spring.

It’s important to address water damage in your basement before it leads to larger issues like structural decay, too-high humidity levels, mold or mildew. However, BBB advises consumers to research thoroughly and not make a snap decision on hiring a contractor. 

BBB has received reports after past storms of opportunistic contractors who asked for payment up front, then abandoned the job without completing it.

For something as important as basement work, it’s best to research carefully to find a quality contractor.

Here’s how to find and work with a contractor you can trust:

  • Ask for recommendations. Friends and family know you best, and they may have suggestions for trustworthy contractors that will be a good fit for you.
  • Search BBB.org. BBB Business Profiles can show you how long a contractor has been in business, their BBB rating, customer reviews and complaint history.
  • Shop around. Ask at least three companies for quotes based on the same requirements — you can use BBB’s Get A Quote service to get estimates from trusted BBB Accredited Businesses. Discuss the estimates with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing.
  • Check their past work. You can read customer reviews on the company’s BBB Business Profile, or ask the contractor if they have references you can call. 
  • Ask about licensing and insurance. Ask if the company’s insurance includes worker’s compensation, property damage and liability insurance. The contractor should be able to provide proof of insurance or the name of an insurance agent. You should also verify whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need, and confirm their license is up-to-date and in good standing.
  • Ask about permits. Check with your local authorities to find out what permits they require for basement projects. Contractors will typically obtain these for you, but make sure to confirm this with them so you don’t leave yourself at risk.
  • Get it in writing. Don’t make any payments without a written contract. Read the contract in full before signing, and make sure it includes the start date and an expected completion date. Keep a copy of the contract for your records, even after the job is done.
  • Don’t pay in full up front. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover the cost of materials, but most of the payment should not be due until after the job is complete. Be wary if a contractor asks to be paid up front, and don’t pay the full cost up front in cash.
  • Request a lien waiver. The contractor should provide this when the job is completed. The lien waiver states that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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