By John Voket
Last year, many of the 1,200-plus complaints Connecticut's Consumer Protection department registered involved issues like improper renovation or improvement contracts, damage to home or property, unfinished work, shoddy materials, or non-return of a deposit.
In this first of two reports, we'll deliver the first half of an agency checklist any homeowner can complete when hiring a contractor and starting a home improvement job:
- Decide exactly what you want done, and establish your budget for the job.
- Speak to friends and family for names of contractors they would recommend based on their experience with them. Make sure the work done is similar to the work you want done. If needed, search out other contractors. The Better Business Bureau and your town building official may also be good sources of free information.
- Verify whether each contractor on your list of possible choices is licensed, registered if required by state, county or local law.
- Check any litigation history of prospective contractors if available to you online. When checking out their record, look to see if previous clients are being sued even though they may not deserve it. If possible, you should dig deeper or maybe pass.
- Meet with at least three registered contractors with a trouble-free work history. Show them the area where work is needed, and describe the job. Ask about their current workloads. Can they start and finish on time?
- Drive by or view photos of some of the selected contractors' current and recently finished jobs. Ask for phone numbers of recent clients as references, and contact them.
- Ask to see any state, local or county licensing potential contractors may require to do the kind of projects you have in mind, and check credential expiration dates to ensure the registration is still valid.