its hard to fine a good home improvement company . so do your homework and alway ask for reference, licsence, insurance and never give money up front, its so easy's to be taken. and remember you are the boss,
I do a lot of work as a cabinetmaker in a lot of home improvement scenarios and I think it is important to ask a lot of questions, ask for references, insurance etc. But the most important thing is to be involved in the day to day progress in the job. Understanding the materials being used and the drawings to fabrication that is happening is also paramount. But I will tell you if there is no money up front there is a real problem. If this is a way a customer wants to proceed I just pass it by. The only thing that a contractor has in common with the customer and the work is the money. If you expect a contractor to foot the materials costs and the labor then the trust has to swing towards the customer. If you want to proceed with no money up front then you need to at least have the money in a third parties hands such as eskrow or a bank loan. It will cost the customer more but it will assure the contractor payment.
If you do not provide at least a material draw you would never have been able to hire my company! I had excellent references and all required insurance, You are just as much a stranger to me as I am to you and I am about as untrusting as they come, and no, I was the boss, if it wasn't specified in the contract it was not done for free.
After you get the license and referrals...check them out, word of mouth is one of the best ways to find out about a good contractor. Do check their license, not all who show you a number, have their license current in these times. Rhamson, was right too...about without some money up front, the contractor does not know if they will be the ones taken. Also another thing to do is to check the local phone book, and local advertisement. If the contractor is established and owns a home in the area, most likely he is not going anywhere. Ask if you can see some of his work, maybe even meet some of those he has done work for. This will make all parties comfortable with an truely honest person. (just be careful of the ones who are smooth talkers) You can tell the difference between an experienced contractor and one who is a want to be, after you meet a few:)
The cheapest alternative is rarely the best.
We recently had some tree work done and we asked everyone who stopped by to show their proof of insurance. Most of them didn't have any. What happens if a huge limb hits my house? I'm sure the company who can't afford insurance can't afford to fix my roof.
I agree with your concern about uninsured tree trimmers. Here in California one's homeowners insurance will not cover work done by trades persons for which state licensing exists. Some trades don't have licensing but can still obtain insurances.
Minor accidents don't generally occur with tree trimmers.
I would ask for a copy of their Workman's Compensation insurance (if there are employees) and Liability insurance which protects your property and someone who may be walking past when, perhaps a misdirected limb coming spearing down.
As a contractor I can tell you that when hiring someone there are a few things that you should do right away. Check for license if required, most areas do require licensing but some smaller towns and counties do not. Check for at least a few references, and see photos of their work. I always have this information immediately available. Another important thing to do is have a clear contract, many states have enacted laws about how specific contracts need to be for construction trades to be done. As for money up front, any job other than a job that is extremely small and requires little to no materials will require money up front. If you are going into a job where the contractor must provide materials and more than 1 day of labor the contractor is not going to go into his pocket in the hopes of you paying when it is done. I have done this on a couple of occasions and I assure you it never pans out like it should and no one ends up happy, I am still waiting on over $5000 on a job done 4 months ago.
Don't be cheap! Pay a fair price for the work you want done by a professional. You might get lucky on a cheap bid but I make most of my money fixing other contractors messes. The customers are going to pay almost double the cost for someone to go in and sort a bad job out. Don't try and get work for free, you wouldn't work for free don't ask your contractor to, thats very rude. If you can only afford a scooter don't expect a Mercedes. You want that guy to stay in buisness so he'll be there when you need him for warranty and future work.
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