BBB Advice for Turning Fall Chores Over to the Experts
September 29, 2009
I broke down and turned on the furnace for the first time this week and it made me think about all the chores — besides tuning up the furnace — that come with the arrival of cooler weather: winterizing sprinkler systems, applying weather stripping, cleaning chimneys, washing windows, patching driveways, raking leaves, cleaning out rain gutters, installing energy-efficient doors and windows, fixing leaky roofs, redoing or adding to the landscape, and may even adding on to the house.
If you already know who to call, then you’re one step ahead of the game. But if you’ve never had to outsource fall jobs before or if you’re new to town, then you’ll want to find reliable businesses you can trust. Start by asking friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. You can also check the BBB for names of Accredited Businesses.
After you gather at least three potential businesses to contact, your next step is to check out their BBB Reliability Reports. The BBB’s database — easy to access online at wynco.bbb.org — includes 14,000 businesses in northern Colorado and greater Wyoming. Of those, about 4,100 are BBB Accredited, which means they’re trustworthy businesses that pledge to uphold high ethical standards.
Your second step is to check references. Call them and ask detailed questions about the work they had done. If feasible, ask if you can see the finished project. Ask them if they would hire the contractor again. Now it’s time to take matters into your own hands. The following list of questions should be asked of all businesses you consider hiring for home projects big or small:
How long has the company been in business and where is it located? Answers to this question will separate those who live and work in the community from those who travel town to town, state to state — they’re known as “travelers” — in search of work.
Is the business bonded and insured? Does it have proper business licenses? Ask to see papers verifying this.
What about warranties? Find out what kind of warranties are provided on both the work and materials. Keep good records so that you’re prepared for any problems down the line.
Does the business have its own crew? Or does it rely on subcontractors? Make sure that you know who the onsite supervisor is for your project. What is the person’s experience? Will they speak and make decisions for the business owner in his or her absence?
Project timetable? Ask when the job will start and when it will be completed. Ask to have the timetable included in the contract. While you want to remain flexible, oftentimes flexibility turns into delays.
What will the project cost? Ask for an itemized proposal that includes type of materials so that you can compare apples to apples. Find out the type of payment plan that’s expected and if a deposit is required. The BBB advises that you not pay in cash and that you don’t pay the entire amount upfront.
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more consumer information or to check out the BBBlog, visit wynco.bbb.org or call
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