This is the Season for Home Improvements

June 06, 2013

Clearwater, FL - Spring is in the air along with a desire to get outside and start cleaning up, fixing up, repairing, and maybe even rebuilding. As the weather gets warmer, consumers turn their focus to home maintenance, remodeling and repair projects. Most of us lead hectic lives, leaving little time for us to complete home projects big or small.

Finding a trustworthy business is the same whether you’re looking for a remodeler, handyman, plumber, painter, pool contractor, landscaper, etc.

In 2012, your BBB saw a 29 percent increase in business inquiries which supports consumers are doing their homework before they hire a business.

“This is the high season for home improvement projects,” said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. “There are hundreds of reputable contractors in our area who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget.”

The BBB advises homeowners to be wary of contractors who promise work at cut-rate prices or who ask the homeowner to pull his own permit.

It's in your best interest to ensure that the contractor you hire is properly licensed and insured to perform work in Florida. This protects you as a homeowner and assures that the work is done safely and completed according to all building code requirements.

If you need help around the house, BBB offers the following tips:

  • Use to find trustworthy businesses.

Start your search with BBB Business Directory to find BBB Accredited contractors in your area. If you are referred to a business through friends, family or an advertisement, verify the business is in good standing at before contacting them.

  • Compare costs. Get at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. BBB’s Request-a-Quote service is free to use and will allow BBB Accredited Businesses to send you quotes via email. Understand variations in price may be associated with quality of materials.

  • Call references. Ask all contractors to provide local references and find out if those customers were satisfied with the work performed. If possible, visit a completed project to inspect the quality of workmanship.  A legitimate contractor will be happy to provide you with references.

  • Check licensing. Licensing requirements vary depending on where you live.  Before you hire a contractor, ask to see a state or county issued license.  Contact the State Contractors Licensing Board and/or your local county Contractors Licensing Board to find out what’s required for the scope of work your contractor will be performing:

    (click on respective county for licensing information)

    Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee, Collier

    Note: An occupational license or Business Tax Receipt does not qualify an individual to act as a contractor.

  • Beware of high up front fees. Contractors may require a down payment before work begins, but it should not be a significant portion of the total cost. Instead, make payments that align with the progress of the work completed. Make sure you are satisfied with the work before making a final payment. Never pay in cash. Instead, use a credit card in case an issue arises.

  • Review your contract thoroughly. Make sure it includes all of the materials needed to complete the job, an itemized list of all costs involved, any subcontracted labor and a warranty for all work performed. Consider having a trusted friend or relative review the contract with you.  After your project is complete do not sign off that work is completed until all work is finished according to your contract, and the contractor has cleared all permits with final inspection approval from the building department.

  • Verify insurance coverage. Find out if the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Verify coverage directly with the business’ insurance company if possible.