Choosing a Contractor you Trust // R&A Magazine

I am planning to have my house repainted but I’m a little uncomfortable about opening my home to strangers. What advice do you have?

As a local painting contractor I am constantly reminded of the trust that my clients put in me as they willingly open their homes and properties to me and my crew. I often wonder how many homes are being exposed to unscrupulous contractors and tradesmen that are not committed to the work ethics and business practices that homeowners should expect.

How do you as a consumer protect your home and family from opening the door to a company that does not have your best intentions in mind and should not be trusted in your home or on your property? It is amazing to me how much time and energy is spent on protecting our homes from the evils of the outside world. All of us feel safer when our doors are locked and our alarms are set. So why do people willingly open their doors to contractors who may be making promises that cannot be kept; who may not be qualified to be doing the work for which they were hired; or who have a poor track record for customer satisfaction and staying within the agreed upon budget?

I understand the need for a good deal and for searching out a bargain, but is it possible that homeowners are fall- ing prey to the contractor who does not play by the rules—causing more harm than good as problems arise in the performance of the work and the quality expected.

Beware! Regardless of the state of the economy, you still get what you pay for. Yes, now is the time to expect a fair price but how do you know you can trust the company that you let on your property or in your door. Asking a few standard questions and putting a little time in the research of your perspective contractor could protect you and your family from a problem waiting to happen.

Please allow me to give you a few sug- gestions that will help protect you on your next project you choose to have done around your home. Don’t set your mind on the lowest bid before the prices come in. Not all contrac- tors do work the same way and a little extra money paid may be the answer to getting the job you want. If the contractor you choose can pass the tests I list below and they are the price that you are looking for then you may have a deal on your hands.

First off, look for companies that you have seen in the community. Committed local companies are a treasure and the owners are highly protective of their image to the public. Google your contracting needs. Reputable contractors will have a website that clearly defines their company and services provided. It will also include their PA Contractor Number which must be used by all contractors that operate in Pennsylvania.

Look for affiliations with local trade organizations that give credibility to the services they offer. A company that is willing to invest in their busi- ness even in a weak economy is one that believes in itself and is here to stay.

Make sure that the contractor is adequately insured—it is not safe to assume that anyone giving you a bid is so. In this economy people are cutting corners any way they can. A safe coverage limit most contractors carry is at least 1,000,000.00 of General liability insurance. Also, ask your prospective contractor if subcon- tractors will be used to perform any of the work—and are they adequately insured? Aside from the insurance issue, depending on the work being performed, you may not want to have your home exposed to people who are not directly employed by your contractor.

Lastly, ask for references. Calling a few past clients could separate the wheat from the chaff very quickly. In today’s cyber age some companies also have online video testimonials that can be very helpful in determining the integrity of a contractor. We all want to spend less and get more. So make sure that your bases are covered and you can rest easy knowing that your home is safe and sound in the hands of a professional you can trust.

Joel Buch
Joel’s Painting