Not too long ago I was at the Pflugerville Post Office, waiting in line, when I struck up a conversation with a gentleman. Our conversation turned naturally toward occupations and he told me he owned a roofing business. That led to us to talk about many things, but in particular the importance of referrals and business reputation.
AARP Magazine (Jan/Feb 2011, p.24) suggests the BBB’s rating system isn’t a fair way to find reliable contractors.
The AARP article advises homeowners follow these six tips before hiring a contractor:
- Get bid estimates from more than one contractor (at least 3 would be a start)
- Do a search on Google for business name and “complaints” and read consumer reviews,
- Consult licensing boards, especially electricians, AC, and plumbers. Consult the City’s homeowner’s guide to building permits and inspection requirements.
- Ask for past customer references,
- Negotiate the maximum hourly rate beyond what you agree to as the expected project cost. This might protect you from higher estimates if the work changes.
- Read the “small print” on any contract you are asked to sign. Demand removal of any wording that puts a “contractor lien” on your property in case of a dispute.
In addition, AARP Magazine recommends these Seven Steps to Hiring a Contractor.
Do you have any home owner stories when this advice helped avoid problems? Maybe you’re a contractor; how do you see it from your side?