CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pandemic remodeling is big business these days. Many homeowners reinvested in their home which quickly became their date night space, entertainment, school, and home offices.
The downside of all this is consumer issues with contractors. Don’t get hammered by someone who is not licensed, not qualified, or just a crook.
First up, choose wisely on the front end. Ask friends who they used for remodeling projects, fences, pools, or patios. That way, you know the reference is legit and honest. It’s better than online reviews which can be faked.
Secondly, know the laws in your state. You should do research to know when you contractor must be licensed. In some states, the threshold is jobs over $30,000 only. Under that, they don’t need a license. North Carolina has a website where you can find out more.
“You can do search on their name, but it’s always best to see it on their state issued ID, like a driver’s license. That’s hard to change, but you can change the name of a business just like that,” said Tom Bartholomy of Charlotte’s Better Business Bureau.
Next up, that criminal background check. Ask the contractor first and then verify online. Start with a search engine, then look at the Department of Corrections or your local sheriff’s office website. If you hire a third party to find a contractor, don’t assume they checked, be sure to follow up.
Number four, check for insurance. Make sure you see their insurance, which protects them and you. Your homeowner's insurance won’t cover their mistakes or injuries if they hurt themselves.
Lastly, price. Contract, contract, contract. Get it in writing, and only give a contractor 10% up front, no matter how good their price sounds.
If it’s a small operation, ask how long they have been in business doing this work. Some like to be a jack of all trades and do pools, fences, plumbing and electrical. Choosing wisely on the front end will save you a lot of headaches. Speaking of electrical and plumbing, that’s where you really want to hire someone who knows what they are doing, paying more for a legit or larger company will be worth it in the end.