How to protect yourself when hiring a contractor for home repair

How to select a reputable contractor for home repairs

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - WAFB’s 9News Alert Team gets tons of calls from viewers at home who say their contracted repairs didn’t go as planned, so we visited the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn what you can do to protect your pockets.

Summer’s near and the time is right for getting some long awaited home repairs done, but are you doing it the right way?

“What we want consumers to do before they get involved or before they hire a company is do their homework,” said Carmen Million with the BBB.

She says first, homeowners need to make sure a contractor has all the right credentials and is in good standing with the Louisiana State Licensing Board of Contractors.

″The very first thing is to make sure the company is properly licensed. Don’t accept the word that he’s insured. Anybody can make that statement, but you have the right to make sure that’s actually true," Million said.

If everything’s in order and you’re ready to move forward, make sure you and the contractor are both on the same page.

″You want to make sure that no matter what they tell you, there is a contract in writing up front. The only way you know what they’re required to do and what they’re responsibility is to both of you is to have it in writing up front," said Million.

And as for payment, the BBB advises to never pay a substantial amount of money up front.

“The only hold you have on a company is what you owe them, so you should not pay them until the job is completed,” she said.

Lastly, stay away from possible scams. Million says the BBB has seen an increase in solicitors going door to door pretending to be licensed contractors. While services like the Next Door app can help you see what your neighbors are saying, it does not replace checking the real paperwork.

″The best thing a consumer can do is to protect themselves by doing their homework. Don’t allow some fast talking smooth individual to convince them that they have to do business with them," said Million.

So before starting that new home project, make sure you take the steps that can help protect you and your family.

The BBB is always a good resource for anyone who has questions about a business or contractor.

Below are tips to follow before hiring a home improvement, roofing, or repair contractor:

• Be specific in explaining exactly what you want done

• Get estimates in writing

• Get more than one bid – bids should detail what the contractor is going to do and the cost for the job

• You should not be required to sign a bid, if you do so it then becomes a binding agreement for work to be performed

• Ask the contractor for a list of references

• All warranties or guarantees or verbal agreements must be in writing

• Confirm state, city, or parish licensing

• Confirm contractor has worker’s compensation coverage

• Check contractor’s record with the Better Business Bureau

• Never pay in cash and never pay a substantial amount of money up front

• Never pay in full until job is completed

• Never pay in full until all supplies and subcontractors are paid eliminating a possible lien on your property

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