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Tips for Choosing the Right Home Contractor

Home Insurance

By Joanne Lemna | April 7, 2017

Whether renovating repairing or remodeling you want to ensure that you choose the right home contractor for the job. Doing your homework a little research and asking some basic questions will help you narrow down the field so that you make the smart choice in terms of your project and your budget. Here is a list of things you should consider as you prepare to hire a general contractor to tackle your next project.

Make Sure They Have Commercial Liability Insurance

First and foremost on your list should be making sure that whomever you choose to undertake your home improvement project has the right kind of insurance—and enough of it! A good contractor will havecommercial liabilitynot only for the customers’ protection but for the health of their business. A business liability policy is essential for covering any injuries that can occur during the course of a project whether to employees clients or those hurt on the job site.  The policy will also cover any damage to property that may arise in the course of business. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking any potential contractor to see proof of his/her commercial liability policy prior to enlisting their services.

Check that They Have Worker’s Comp

Hand-in hand with the liability policy is the worker’s comp policy. The Worker’s Compensation Board of each province requires that contractors carry worker’s comp insurance if they have employees. They must register their business with the WCB and pay the assessed rate based on their industry classification. Basically worker’s comp is meant to protect a business should an employee get hurt and require medical care rehabilitation or any other such expenses . Additionally if an employee as a result of injury tries to sue a company worker’s comp acts as a layer of protection that the business direly needs in order to shield it from any such lawsuits. Not to mention if a firm does not have worker’s compensation an injured employee can also bring legal action against the homeowner on whose project the incident occurred.

Get Referrals – and Check Them

This one is a no-brainer. The work that a contractor has done in the past and subsequently the level of satisfaction experienced by former clients can certainly tell you a lot about the prospective contractor’s professionalism their approach to customer service and the quality of their workmanship. Asking for references during any such interview is a must! Actually following up and contacting those referrals—even more important.

Referrals from People You Know are Always Best

Better than asking for referrals is capitalizing on the experiences of friends family and acquaintances who may have used that contractor’s services before. People you know and trust will tell you openly and honestly about their experiences. Whereas a contractor can always gather a list of those who will give glowing reviews while easily omitting those not so stellar references.

Do They Do the Work Themselves or Subcontract It Out – If They Use Subs Are They Insured?

Just as your general contractor needs to carry the requisite insurance policies so do any subcontractors that he/she may use. When a general contractor subs out portions of a job it simply means that they are hiring a plumber for instance or an electrician or an HVAC tech to complete the relevant tasks. Now this sub also needs to carry commercial liability and if they have others working under them worker’s comp as well. So finding out if in fact the contractor subs out work and then inquiring about the insured status of these subs is crucial.

Do They Have a Business License to Operate in Your Community?

In an effort to try and regulate the construction and remodeling industry most cities and towns require contractors to procure the necessary licenses in order to do business in that region. Not to mention making sure that your contractor has a license to operate in your community is yet another level of assurance that they are reputable that they’ve acquired the necessary certifications and that they are recognized in your area as a viable business entity.

Get the Estimate in Writing

Very often a contractor will tell you one price and then as the project progresses add in items and dollar amounts that he/she may have ‘forgotten’ about previously. This is why it’s so vital to get all details up front in writing in contract form. Certainly there may be some unforeseen issues that do arise when a wall is uncovered or part of a foundation dug up. And sometimes these things simply cannot be helped. But the bulk of the project and the scope of the work should be fairly well defined in writing prior to the start of any project.

Don’t Pay All Up Front

The best way to structure payment for a remodel or construction project is through draws or milestones . For instance once 10% of the project is complete then the homeowner would release a draw for the equivalent amount in relation to the total project. Paying the entire project amount up front leaves you without any leverage whatsoever in terms of ensuring that the work is done to your satisfaction and that any problems and/or disagreed upon issues are cleared up in the most efficient way possible.

Aviva Home Repair Program

Having a maintenance and repair program in place already should anything go wrong with your home’s major systems or mechanicals can provide peace of mind and assurance in the long term. Additionally theAviva programis a great place to turn for sourcing reliable and reputable contractors for projects not associated with the Home Repair plan.Talk to your insurance brokerto find out if this program is right for you!

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