Side Job Trader-Tips For Consumers
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
When hiring Skilled Tradespeople to perform small jobs
- Ask for and check references. Skilled Tradespeople are eager to provide you with them. People they refer you to know they should expect a phone call, so take a few minutes to make those reference calls. You can save time by asking for and checking references before someone comes to your home to give you an estimate.
- Remember, most Skilled Tradespeople give free estimates. In most cases, you don’t have to put money down and you don’t need to feel rushed to have your project started after you get your first good estimate. You are in control.
- Don’t accept your first estimate. It’s a good general rule to use. Get at least three estimates, no matter what your need for services are.
- Don’t feel rushed to have your project completed. Ask as many questions as you need to, you’ll learn a lot from a good tradesperson. Be sure to have your estimates written down so you can compare them in your own time.
- Never pay a large sum upfront. With the exception of supplies, tradespeople accept payment after their work is completed.
- When it comes to supplies during your estimate, discuss them first with a tradesperson. Document the supplies you need to purchase yourself or have them purchased for you. Understand there are supplies that the general public is restricted from purchasing. Tradespeople may have access to wholesale suppliers and can assist you in that area. A small markup on supplies purchased for you is standard.
- Get everything in writing.
When you must hire a Licensed Contractor
If you are not sure what type of contractor you need for your project or repair, contact your state Registrar of Contractors. Contractors Licenses are required for non-minor repairs or home improvements. You need a contractor for medium to large scale residential or commercial improvements, both structural and landscape. When you require someone to obtain and sign a building permit, you must use a contractor. Always check if your state has regulations on using unlicensed contractors for your project as you could be held liable, including fines and penalties. For example, the State of California requires you must use a Licensed Contractor for projects valued at $500.00 or more including supplies and labor. If you reside in California, please visit www.cslb.ca.gov for significant information. In the State of Arizona, all contractors must be licensed with some exceptions such as “handymen” who limit themselves to jobs less than $1,000.00 including cost of materials and labor. Regulations vary from state to state and may change. Check laws concerning both licensed and unlicensed contractors in your state regularly. If you reside in the State of Arizona, you may access the Arizona Registrar of Contractors website at www.azroc.gov. Some contractors are willing to perform small jobs, or may send one of their employees to complete that small job for you. Those contractors are considered an asset to all homeowners and business owners. An auto mechanic, marine mechanic or hobbyist as well as many other trades do not require a contractors license to perform services, but may hold other licenses or certificates.
If you decide to use a Licensed Contractor for your project, department officials offered the following tips when hiring that contractor
- Educate yourself first by contacting your local Registrar of Contractors (Contractors State License Board) or accessing the Registrar of Contractors website in your state. These websites are very informative and easy to use.
- Always ask to see the contractor’s license, and proof of insurance. Document that information.
- Note the license number and verify that the license is current and in good standing and without infractions. To check a license in your state, contact your local state or jurisdictions Registrar of Contractors (Contractors State License Board). You can search contractors by name or license number.
- Be sure that the contractor’s license pertains to the job you need completed.
- Get numerous estimates. You should compare at least three different companies.
- Ask any potential contractor for references and check each one. Check references before someone comes to your home.
- Beware of scams when contractors ask for all or most of the money up front, or will only accept cash.
- Beware of individuals who pose as contractors and solicit door-to-door. These individuals target and pressure the elderly and uninformed, especially after a devastation or disaster. Legitimate contractors never go door-to-door.
- Beware of contractors that approach you with a statement such as “We just finished a job in your area” or “We just performed a job for your neighbor”. Only you should approach a contractor, they should not approach you.
- Beware of contractors who arrive in unmarked vehicles, possibly from out-of-state.
- Never pay in cash.
- Be cautious of writing checks made payable to individuals.
- Beware of contractors that ask you to pull your own permits.
- Beware of contractors that require the customer accept left-over material from another job.
- Get everything in writing. Any updates or changes to the estimate should also be in writing.
- Don’t sign the certificate of completion until you are satisfied.
Have a complaint against a contractor or an unlicensed tradesperson?
Although a very small percentage of contractors and skilled tradespeople have complaints brought against them, consumers have the right to file a complaint with their States Registrar of Contractors. Immediately report any activity of anyone who poses as a licensed contractor to secure larger projects and cannot show documentation of proof.
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