With the current economic conditions, many homeowners have been tempted to cut costs on their upcoming projects by hiring contractors offering the low-bid price. But there may be some hidden costs involved in that price that you may not be aware of. For one, when a licensed contractor provides you with a price, you’re not just getting a price for the job being bid on. In that price, you are getting the security of knowing Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, and a means of accountability are included. Waiting until a worker falls off a ladder is the wrong time to check that your contractor has insurance and is licensed. By choosing a Home Improvement Contractor licensed by the AZ Registrar of Contractors, you can rest assured the contractor working on your home is legit, abides by the law, and that there is a system in place to track any complaints against them.
What should I ask a painting contractor?
Ask each painting contractor before they come out to bid:
◾Are you licensed? A painting contractor requires a license issued by the city and the AZ Registrar of Contractors. Contractors who operate without a license are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year, a $1,000 fine or both.
◾How long have you been in business? Generally speaking, the longer the better.
◾How many projects like mine have you done before? In the last year?
◾What is your business address and business telephone number? Verify this information, and remember – a contractor who only gives a P.O. box address or a cell phone may be difficult to find if the job goes uncompleted or you need him to come back to fix something after the last bill has been paid.
◾Will your employees do the work or you will you subcontract?
◾How many other jobs will you take on at the same time?
◾Are you a member of any remodeling and contracting industry organizations?
How do I make sure a painting contractor is licensed?
Check with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors online at http://www.azroc.gov/forms/contractorsearch.html.
Why should I hire a licensed painting contractor?
License holders undergo a criminal background check, and must supply proof of insurance and financial responsibility. A license can be revoked for violations of law and for failure to resolve consumer complaints.
An unlicensed contractor could have a serious criminal record. Remember, you’ll be letting this person into your home. An unlicensed contractor might lack insurance. Remember, this could expose you to liability in the event of an accident or injury. An unlicensed contractor could have unpaid judgments. Remember, the contractor’s failure to pay subcontractors or suppliers could delay the completion or your project, or result in mechanics liens being placed against your home.
Should I find out whether there have been complaints against the painting contractor?
Yes. You can contact the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and the Better Business Bureau.
What “Red Flags” should I look out for?
◾Avoid unlicensed contractors. The risks are high, and you have little recourse against them.
◾Avoid contractors who show up at your doorstep unannounced or contact you through telemarketing.
◾Avoid contractors who engage in high pressure sales pitches, whose promises appear “too good to be true,” or whose references can’t be reached.
◾Avoid contractors who tell you there’s no need for a written contract.
◾Avoid transient contractors who only have a P.O. box address or a cell phone number.
◾Avoid contractors who offer discounts for using your home as a model.
◾Avoid contractors who demand payment in cash and never give a cash deposit.
How do I know if the painting contractor is insured?
Ask the contractor to provide you with a certificate of insurance. Don’t just take his word that he’s insured.
Should I get a written contract?
Yes. Contracts for jobs costing $500 or more must be in writing, but it’s best to get a written contract in all cases. Insist on a written contract, and make sure to get a copy. Do NOT agree to an oral contract.
So the next time you’re collecting prices from contractors to do work on your house, please give careful consideration into hiring a licensed Painting Contractor. After all, isn’t it better to get it done right the first time, then to pay a lot more to get it done right the second time!