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If you are hiring a contractor to do any work on your home, whether it be installing a pool or kitchen or an entire garage, there are several important questions to ask before you sign.
Part of good risk management involves being proactive, so avoid future problems by asking the important questions most forget.
The first inquiry should be a request for pictures of their work, or a website where you can see examples. You should also ask for references, and seek out online reviews as well. Not many businesses or contractors have all five-star reviews, so it’s important to dig past page one and use your best judgement.
And experts suggest not limiting your research to reviews and references. “The best referral is a personal one,” explains Chris Cates, a member of the Texas Foundation Repair Association. “Even the worst companies with a ton of complaints in the industry can put together a nice reference list.”
Once you’re confident you found the right person for your needs, it’s very important to make sure they are properly insured for the job. Not all homeowner’s insurances will cover damages or injuries resulting from a contractor’s work on your property. Verify that your contractor is properly insured by asking a series of important questions:
- Ask if they are fully insured: to be truly fully insured, your contractor should have adequate coverage in four major areas. Auto, worker’s compensation, general liability, and property insurance.
- Ask how much they are insured for: is their coverage enough to encompass any potential damage to your property? If they are insured for one million, but your property is worth four, it might be a good idea to find a professional who can cover the worst case scenario.
- Ask for proof that their policies are current: Your contractor should be able to show you proof that they are currently covered. They may have separate insurers for different areas, or they may all be covered by the same company, but there’s no harm in asking to see proof.
- Ask when their policies expire: not only should your contractor have current insurance, the insurance should last throughout the duration of your project.
- Lastly, ask if they can add you to their policy: did you know that you can request that your contractor add you to their policy as a named insured? That way, they cannot make changes to their policy without you being informed, and you’ll be notified if the coverage is cancelled due to lack of payment. Being a named insured also extends any benefits your contractor may receive to yourself.