Choosing A Contractor the #WiseChoice Way
Besides selecting my #WiseChoices in contractors, here’s how you should go about choosing any contractor.
- Make a #WiseChoice. Go first to AndyWiseChoices.com. I’ve personally vetted the service histories, business licenses and industry licenses (where applicable) of 28 service companies. I endorse each exclusively in its service category as the BEST Mid-South business in that category for trust, integrity and honesty. For a general contractor/interior designer/remodeler, I endorse Interior Transformations/HillCo Construction. Browse the Wise Choices category to find my endorsements and credentials listings for other contractors, including my #WiseChoice electrician, plumber and HVAC contractors.
- Get Estimates. Keep in mind, I’ve already vetted the major contractor categories for the most trustworthy Mid-South business in that category. But if you feel like you need to check out a few more, gather 3-5 with exemplary BBB records and contractor’s licenses (see how below). Insist on estimates from each of them.
- The Better Business Bureau. Build a list of contractors who are listed as “BBB-accredited” and carry at least an “A” rating. BBB-accredited businesses automatically agree to arbitration in the matter of consumer complaints — and that arbitration is binding.
- Your State Contractors Board. Depending on the type and cost of your job, your state may require the contractor to hold an active state contractor’s license. If you cannot verify the licensure status of the contractor, drop that company from your list, no matter what its BBB rating. Also, just because a contractor is licensed in one Mid-South state doesn’t necessarily mean it is licensed in another Mid-South state. Mid-South states recognize reciprocal licenses only in certain conditions. To verify Tennessee contractors: http://verify.tn.gov. For Mississippi contractors, go to the Mississippi State Board of Contractors (http://www.msbc.us). For Arkansas contractors, go to the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board (http://aclb2.arkansas.gov/clbsearch.php).
- Verify Insurance. Ask the contractors to provide proof of insurance. Contractor’s insurance typically falls into one of two categories: LIABILITY: covers property damage and injuries caused by the contractor’s work. WORKERS COMPENSATION: covers workers injured on the job on your property, regardless of fault. Tennessee contractors are required to carry a minimum of $100,000 in coverage. Most worth their salt will carry $500,000 to $1 million.
- Verify Bonding. Most states require contractors to carry a surety bond. The consumer can file a claim against that bond with the bonding company should the contractor fail to complete the job, fail to pay the on-site workers or fail to pay for materials. Ask the contractors to provide either proof of bonding or the contact information of the bonding company, then verify the bond with that company.
- Check Your City’s/County’s Requirements. Some municipalities require contractors to carry additional credentials. Crittenden County, AR, for example, allows a privilege license for contractors who perform small jobs for less than $20,000, but they must carry an Arkansas contractor’s license for jobs above $20,000. Make sure the contractor is cleared to pull building permits, electrical permits, plumbing permits, etc. with your city and/or county.
- Make Your Choice, But Keep Records. Keep copies of your contract, licenses, proof of insurance, proof of bonding and any additional requirements. Consider keeping a photo or video “diary” of the construction’s progress.
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