Hiring of independent contractors should be approached with caution by the elderly homeowner
Elderly homeowners in need of assistance with household repairs are often considered easy targets by unscrupulous contractors. To avoid the likelihood of being taken advantage of, consider the following:
- Remodeling or home repair should be solicited by the homeowner. If you are considering having work done because someone else suggested it, request a written estimate and explain you will ask others for competitive bids.
- Every legitimate contractor has liability insurance and if they employ anyone other than themselves they must have Workmen’s Compensation as well. It is routine to supply certificates of insurance to prospective clients, so be sure to ask for copies before allowing work to begin.
- One way to make certain you are dealing with a reputable firm is to ask for the following documentation. Any professional will not hesitate to provide a written bid, references and terms of payment.
A written bid should contain:
- A precise description of the work to be done
- The exact cost of labor and materials (listed separately)
- Date work will begin
- Projected work schedule
- Estimated completion date
- Notice that any deviation from the work described on the contract will not be paid for unless an additional “Add or Change Order” is signed by both you and the contractor.
Ask for the name and telephone number of three parties who have had work performed similar to your job. Speak personally with each and ask the following questions:
- Was the job done right and completed in a timely manner?
- Did the work get done according to the bid price, or were there extra charges?
- Were they comfortable in the presence of the workers?
- Was the work area cleaned up at the end of each work day?
- Would the reference hire the contractor for another job?
You might also check with the Better Business Bureau, but remember that they will only have information if someone else has already filed a complaint against the contractor.
Terms of Payment
Confirm that the contractor will accept payment by check or certified funds. Never pay money up front to the contractor for materials or other miscellaneous “start up” costs. If the contractor says he can’t afford to purchase materials, ask him to provide a work order from his supply house – confirm the amount with the supplier, and then pay them directly.
When you make final payment at the end of the job, ask for a signed Lien Release for labor and materials. This relieves you of responsibility for any unpaid bills the contractor may not have paid.
For more information call 303-333-3482.