Home improvement projects require research to find contractor you can trust

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QUINCY — Spring weather might inspire you to get started on home improvement projects you couldn’t complete during the winter months. Hiring the right contractor is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your project goes smoothly.

BBB commonly receives reports from consumers who paid a deposit for home improvement work, only for the work to not be completed in a quality manner, on time, or at all.

Home improvement projects are big investments, so you need someone you can trust to meet your expectations and get the job done right.

Research thoroughly before you sign a contract or pay a company. You can start by searching BBB.org to find contractors who have been vetted by BBB.

How to hire a contractor you can trust:

  • Know your budget. Your budget will help narrow your options for contractors, so start here. Some financial experts recommend setting aside 1% to 3% of your home’s purchase price each year for maintenance and repairs.
  • Research with BBB. You can search BBB.org to find BBB Business Profiles for trusted general contractors near you. From there, you can see business’ ratings and whether they are BBB Accredited, read reviews and see if customers have filed complaints to get an idea of the business’ track record.
  • Watch for red flags. Be wary if a company is difficult to contact for a quote – this could be a sign that they will not be responsive during a project. Be cautious of companies that insist on cash-only deals, use high-pressure sales tactics, require high payments up front or don’t use a written contract.
  • Get multiple quotes. Ask at least three companies for quotes based on the same requirements – BBB’s Get a Quote service can help you get quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses. Discuss pricing, timing and materials in detail with each contractor. The lowest bid might not be the best bid; extra-low prices could mean the contractor is cutting corners or doesn’t fully understand your needs.
  • Ask about license, insurance and permits. Verify that the company is licensed for the kind of work you need and check with local authorities to find out whether you need any permits. Request proof of insurance.
  • Get references. Ask potential contractors for a list of local references you may contact to discuss their past work and customer service experiences.
  • Get it in writing. Make sure you get a written contract that covers all details of the job, including the expected start and completion dates. Read the contract carefully before signing or paying any money. Ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver – a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid for materials and labor – when the job is completed.
  • Don’t pay in full before work is done. BBB frequently receives reports from customers who paid a large deposit or paid in full up front, only for the contractor to disappear. In some cases, a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials, but the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is completed.

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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