Business

Before you hire a contractor, do your homework

A reader’s question about finding a good heater repairman leads to Blair Looney of the Better Business Bureau sharing tips for finding a reputable contractor.
A reader’s question about finding a good heater repairman leads to Blair Looney of the Better Business Bureau sharing tips for finding a reputable contractor. Fresno Bee file

Q: The weather has gotten colder now. I have not had my heating unit serviced yet and keep trying to put off turning it on. I’m not sure it will make it through another season. Can you help me find a good heating company that I can trust?

A: First, go to bbb.org/ccie and search business profiles. You will find customers reviews, complaints and other information that will be helpful in your decision making. You will usually find information on state licensing, as well.

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It can’t be overstated: Do not hire an unlicensed contractor.

If you don’t finding licensing information on our website, then check companies on the Contractors State License Board search page, fblinks.com/license.

Either way, make sure the company has a license that is current and active. Check to see if it has workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage – required of any contractor that has employees. If a worker is injured working on your property and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, you could be financially liable to pay for injuries and rehabilitation. Your homeowner’s insurance may or may not cover those costs. You should check with your insurance carrier to make sure the workers’ compensation insurance coverage being provided by your contractor is adequate. Learn more from the California Department of Insurance, insurance.ca.gov.

Ask friends, family members or neighbors for a recommendation. If they were satisfied with their contractor, chances are, you will be, too.

Get three estimates for service calls and/or repairs.

You should ask for references and then call them. Ask about the scope of work that was performed and if the performance was satisfactory.

Go online and look at review sites or search the name for the companies you are considering to gather as much information about the companies as you can. You may find reviews, blogs, social media pages, etc. The more information you have, the easier it will be to make a good decision.

When it’s time to have someone come out, get everything in writing starting with an estimate that is clear and includes the who, what, where, when and the cost of the work to be performed. If you have major work done, never pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000. Do not pay in cash. Ask what forms of payment they accept so that you will be prepared when it comes time to pay the contractor. Don’t make the final payment unless you are satisfied with the job.

Remember, the lowest bid isn’t always the best price. Do your research first.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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