You can't wait to get your dream kitchen, basement, or deck, but don't rush the process of hiring a contractor. Finding the right contractor who will do a beautiful job is only part of your task list. You also need to find a contractor who is properly insured. Even the most experienced contractor can have an accident while working in your home, and you want to make sure you're fully protected should that happen. Your homeowner's insurance can only do so much. Your contractor needs to carry adequate insurance.
Learn the ins and outs of contractor liability and insurance before you finalize the hire.
Homeowner policies vary widely, so don't assume you'll have coverage if a contractor injures himself or you. Check out your personal injury section of your policy to see what is covered. Most likely, you'll find that any major injuries won't be well covered, which is why it's so important to ensure your contractor is carrying adequate coverage.
Your Contractor's Insurance
It's not inappropriate to ask to see proof of your contractor's insurance; in fact, you absolutely shouldn't hire a contractor unless you've already seen the proof. But you need to do even more than just see proof of insurance. Once you've seen a Certificate of Insurance, call to make sure the policy is still current and that it carries enough coverage for the project you're hiring for.
The contractor should carry general contractor liability insurance that covers:
Any accidental bodily injury or property damage that happens to you, your family, or your property
Worker's compensation for accidental injuries a contractor causes to himself or employees. (If the owner doesn't have any other employees, worker's compensation may not be necessary, depending on where you live.)
Accidents involving the contractor's equipment
If your contractor will be using subcontractors, they must also be sufficiently covered.
Minimize risk to everyone by moving debris, clutter, and toys out of the way. Try not to interrupt a contractor if he's in a precarious position or using power tools. And don't let a contractor use any of your equipment. (If a worker falls off your ladder, you could be held responsible.)
Tips for Choosing a Trustworthy Contractor
The right insurance is just one part (but an important part!) of the contractor selection process. Make sure you also ask important questions, like:
How long have you been in business?
Are you licensed?
How many projects like this one have you done?
How many of these similar projects have you done this year?
Can I have a list of references?
Will you be using subcontractors?
Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, but also ask them what they liked and didn't like about their contractor. Your friends' priorities may be different from yours.
And remember, personality is important. Hire someone you can get along with and who respects you. This person will be in your home every day for an extended amount of time. It's important to like your contractor.
Price is, of course, always a factor. But the cheapest contractor is not always the best if he can't answer the above questions to your satisfaction. And if he isn't properly insured, don't even think about hiring him.
New Life Bath and Kitchen is fully insured, licensed and bonded. Our employees are highly trained and take pride in their work. Give us a call at (805) 639-5433, or request a free consultation online.