As summer construction season kicks into high gear, Home Builders Association of F-M offers resources to help members of the public choose a qualified contractor. In general, local contractors have a history working in the area, have built a list of references, and will be around to service warranties or problems that may arise with projects. Here are our top ten suggestions:
- Always check to see if the contractor you are considering, local or transient, is licensed in the state in which work will be performed. Contact the appropriate governmental agency: North Dakota Secretary of State’s office (http://nd.gov/sos/licensing/) or the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (www.doli.state.mn.us) to verify the builder is currently licensed and to find out if he or she has a disciplinary history.
- Get more than one estimate and be wary of any contractor that requires full payment up front, uses high-pressure sales tactics or asks you to sign authorization paperwork or a contract that you don’t understand. Consider paying with a credit card since these companies have better methods of remedying disputes and dealing with fraudulent charges.
- Get a detailed contract including a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated and specific timelines. Do not sign it until you are comfortable.
- Ask the contractor how long and where he or she has been in business.
- Ask the contractor about designations or certifications he or she has earned. These can include, for example, voluntary programs to further their professionalism, or lead certification required by the EPA to perform work in structures built in 1978 or earlier.
- Request references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work.
- Ask for a local business address, other than a post office box, and a local phone number where the contractor can be reached during normal business hours. Some transient companies will open a post office box or can easily acquire a cell phone with a local number to give the appearance of being a local company, when it is not.
- Ask about warranty work and the company’s service policies.
- Find out if the contractor has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
- Lastly, make sure you can communicate with the contractor and feel comfortable with him or her. Misunderstandings during the course of the project can lead to cost overruns and delays.
Visit www.hbafm.com for additional information, plus a directory of local contractors categorized by what they do.
The HBA of F-M promotes an environment in which members and their businesses can prosper. It is a non-profit trade association of over 800 members that has been in existence since 1956. Its public events include the Spring Parade of Homes, Fall Parade of Homes, Remodeled Home Tour, Red River Valley Home & Garden Show and Fall Home Show.