Tips for Hiring a Contractor
If you're facing a situation involving a wet basement, the last thing you need to is to work with a contractor who is unreliable or who does faulty work. You simply can't afford to gamble with your time or your money. So just how can you choose a waterproofing contractor that you can rely on? Here are 5simple, yet effective, tips. 1. Look for Solid Community Reputation When searching for a waterproofing contractor, it's important that you do your homework as much as is feasibly possible. In the process, you should weed out any companies that do not have a solid community backing. It's crucial that the waterproofing contractor you choose has a good reputation in the community. In addition, ALWAYS go with a company that is insured, bonded, licensed, and certified. This will protect the work that is completed, as well as your investment. 2. Avoid Advance Payments If you are approached by a salesperson who requests that you pay large sums for the job in advance, run, don't walk, in the other direction! This is a certain red flag. You should not be expected to pay a large chunk of money for uncompleted work. In general, reliable contractors will not require more than a minimal down payment. When interviewing prospective contractors, always inquire about the payment arrangement and ensure that the information is provided to you in writing. 3. Obtain Multiple Estimates Though it may take a little extra time on your part, we highly recommend that you obtain written estimates from at least three contractors before selecting the one who will complete the waterproofing work on your home. This will provide you with a broader picture of the services that are being offered and enable you to compare the costs, the quality of the materials that will be used, and any financing options that are available so that you can make the most educated decision and choose the most suitable company to handle your project. 4. Check with the Authorities Before making your final decision and signing a contract with a waterproofing professional, be sure to check with the proper authorities. When you call, ask the staff to check the records of the contractor you're considering hiring. They can provide you with valuable information, such as whether or not the company's license is in good standing and if there have been any complaints, what those complaints have been, and if and how they have been resolved. - In Maryland, contact: Maryland Home Improvement Commission at (410) 347-6309 Better Business Bureau at (410) 347-3990. - In Tennessee, contact: Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance at (615) 741-8307 Better Business Bureau at (615) 242-4222 * If you're looking for a contractor in Maryland, you should also ask to see the contractor’s MHIC sales license card. Every contractor in the state of Maryland is required to carry this card when calling on a prospective customer. Examine the license closely, and note the number and expiration date. 5. Ask for a Written Contract After selecting a contractor, always require that you be provided with a written contract in accordance with the estimate. Read this contract carefully, making sure that you thoroughly understand its contents, PRIOR to signing it. If you see any potential issues or if you have any questions, ask an attorney to review the contract for you. The contract should include the following:
- contractor’s name, address, and telephone number
- a full description of the work to be done and a list of the materials to be used.
- a definite date on which work will start and the length of time estimated for completion
- a provision that no change in plans or specifications may be made without the homeowner’s written approval.
- details of payment. If financing, information on the down payment, monthly payments, number of payments, the total finance costs, and annual percentage rate should be included. The annual percentage rate is your key to comparing costs for the lowest rate.
- a statement that the contractor is responsible for insuring his employees against possible injury on the job, usually a “Workers Compensation Policy.”
- a warranty or guarantee with all conditions spelled out. For example, if what the contractor provides doesn’t solve the water problem, what is the company obligated to do and what are the alternatives?
- the contractor’s signature and local or state licensing number. (In Maryland all contractors must be licensed through the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (410) 347-6309.
- a cancelation provision. If you plan to finance the work and the contract terms could give the contractor a lien, mortgage, or other security interest on your home, or if you are solicited by a door-to-door or telemarketing salesperson, make sure the contract contains a provision allowing you to cancel within three business days after signing it, without penalty.