Learn how to vet a contractor as the professionals do
Hiring the wrong contractor can be a costly and frustrating problem. In this article, we will discuss some of the thing's professionals do when selecting and vetting a contractor. While there is no foolproof guaranteed way to make sure you don't get ripped off, the steps described in this article can help you change the odds in your favor.
Visit the Arizona Corporate Commission website https://ecorp.azcc.gov/EntitySearch/Index and search for the contractor(s) you are considering hiring and see if the contractor is a legit business.
Make sure the contractor is licensed and bonded to do the work you need to be done. Visit the Arizona Registrar of Contractor's website, use the "Contractor Search" link to search for your contractor. https://roc.az.gov/contractor-search. When you type in the name of the contractor, you will get a list of contractors matching your search criteria. Before clicking on the MORE INFORMATION link to view the contractor's profile page, click on the CLASS link. You will get a pop-up that tells you precisely what that contractor is licensed to do under that license number. Then go to the contractor's profile page and learn more about them. Pay special attention to the complaints toward the bottom of the page — the contractor's bonding information on their profile, but not the contractor's insurance information. The state does not make contractors carry General Liability; it is on you to demand it.
Make sure the contractor carries workman's compensation insurance by visiting the Industrial Commission of Arizona website. This site can be a little confusing to navigate. Contractors are required by law to carry workman's compensation insurance. https://www.ewccv.com/cvs/?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.azica.gov%2Fobtaining-w...
Check out the contractor's online reputation on sites that DO NOT SELL LEADS, and this is very important. Websites that sell leads to contractor's have financial incentive to show their customers, the Contractor (not you) in a good light. We will often compare the reviews on one site to others and see if there is a dramatic difference between them, and often there is. When looking at customer reviews, look for patterns and how the contractor responds to negative comments. No one is perfect; even the best of the best contractors gets a few complaints. The way the Contractor responds will help you learn more about the culture of the company and how they handle problems
This next step is one that has disqualified many contractors who seemed to be very good up until we reached this point. Go to the county superior court website where the contractor does business, look up that contractor and the qualified parties. Again, no one is perfect, and we are not interested in personal matters. What we are looking for are patterns of the contractor, either being sued or suing others for business-related matters. Some of these sites can be somewhat confusing to navigate, but it is worth the effort.
Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance, require them to ask their insurance agent to send you the COI "Certificate of Insurance." DO NOT accept a copy provided by the contractor, before you sign any contractor make sure to get a COI from the contractor's insurance agent.
Finally, ask the contractor for a list of addresses of nearby jobs. Drive by one of their sites and see if the contractor's job site is clean, safe, and imagine that crew on your property. Safety matters, and it is the law! OSHA says that anyone working more than 6 feet off the ground, MUST be protected from a fall hazard.
In this article, you learned what sites to visit to learn more about the contractors you are considering hiring. You learn learned some practical ways, that will help you avoid slick sales talk, and getting caught up with the wrong contractor. While there is no foolproof guaranteed way to make sure you never get ripped off, if you do your due diligence, you can change the odds in your favor.
Henry Staggs, NCCER Master Trainer, Adjunct Professor and Roofing Industry Leader
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