To warn consumers about potential scams, the BBB of Connecticut is providing advice about hiring for construction jobs in Connecticut, especially when it comes to hiring a contractor.
In 2011, BBB received more than 6,000 complaints against general contractors, an 11% increase over the previous year.
“Be especially wary of doing business with a contractor who solicits business door-to-door,” warns Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti.
“This could mean that the contractor is not from a local, established business and is instead just passing through and trying to scam innocent consumers.”
BBB advises consumers to follow this checklist before choosing a home contractor:
Be picky and have lots of options – Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best.
Make sure they are certified and insured – Consumers should ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Obtain the name of the insurance carrier and call to verify coverage. Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.
Get everything in writing – Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Read and make sure you understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing, in addition to start and completion dates.
Follow the “Rule of Thirds” – A reasonable payment schedule would stipulate paying one third as a deposit, one third when work is half finished and one third after completion.