A reader: The summer heat came so early and I’m not ready. I think I may need to have my air conditioner replaced. The contractor I usually call has retired, so now I have to find someone new. Who should I call? And how do I know I can trust them?
Action Line: You’re right to be concerned. Hiring someone to come into your home can sometimes cause anxiety. Please use extra caution when you are inviting anyone you don’t know into your home.
So, the first thing you want to do is … your research. Plan to get pricing from at least three contractors. Before calling an air conditioning contractor and inviting them in, check out their state license at: www.cslb.ca.gov/
Go to www.bbb.org and check out the company’s Business Review. You will find customer reviews, complaints and other information that will be helpful in your decision making. You usually will find information on licensing as well.
Make sure the company has a license that is current and active.
Check to see if they have workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage. According to the Contractors State License Board, if a contractor has employees, he/she is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. 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 the contractor is adequate. Learn more from the California Department of Insurance, www.insurance.ca.gov/.
Don’t forget to ask friends, family members or neighbors if they have someone they would recommend to you. If they were satisfied with their contractor, chances are, you will be, too.
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. Gather as much information about the companies as you can.
Ask what forms of payment they accept so that you will be prepared when it comes time to pay the contractor.
When it’s time to have someone come out, get a written estimate. Always get everything in writing. An estimate should be clear and include the who, the what, the where, the when and the cost of the work to be performed.
You might also ask what forms of payment they accept.
Remember, the lowest bid isn’t always the best price. Do your research.
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, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.