Choosing a contractor for your construction project can be a little overwhelming to some. So here are a few tips on choosing a contractor.
- Ask to see their license and contact the appropriate licensing agency to see if their license is current:
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation – Search current license information for Electricians and Heating/Air conditioning contractors
- Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners – Search current license information for Plumbers
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – Search current license information for Irrigators.
- Search for a Contractor Business Registration with the City of Arlington – www.ArlingtonPermits.com. General and Construction Contractors need to be registered with the City of Arlington to acquire a building permit.
- Search the City of Arlington permit list to see the last time the contractor pulled a permit in the City.
- Ask the contractor for a written list of his/her three most recent projects with names, telephone numbers and addresses of the owners. Then verify. You can verify the owner’s name and address through the Tarrant County Appraisal District.
- If the contractor is a member of the Better Business Bureau, you may be able to retrieve relevant information regarding their status and complaint history. Follow the link to the Better Business Bureau.
- Get a written estimate from several licensed contractors. Be sure that the estimate includes all work to be done by the contractor, the materials involved, date of completion and the total cost.
- If the project is for repairing damage, check with your insurance company first to verify that your insurance will cover the repairs before you sign a contractor.
- Beware of alleged contractors who ask to be paid in cash or ask for large payments up front.
- Ask the contractor if they are pulling the appropriate permits for the job and if it will be inspected. If they say NO, it should be a RED FLAG. You can verify which type of work requires or does not require a permit HERE.
- Verify contractors have current liability insurance to cover accidents and injuries that may occur while working at your home.
- Be wary of contractors soliciting business door-to-door. Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number and business license. Two common door-to-door scams, according to the Texas Attorney General, are:
- Knocks on door and states that he/she just completed work at your neighbor’s house, has leftover material and can do the job at a low price.
- Driving through the neighborhood and noticed something on your home that is in need of repair.
- In both cases, the contractor shows up uninvited. It should be a RED FLAG.
After you choose a contractor:
- Make sure your contractor obtains a permit and posts it on the front of the property.
- Have the contractor explain their project supervision and quality control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge at your home, how many workers will be required and the estimated completion time.
- If the contractor request a final payment before all final inspections are completed and the permit placard has been signed by the appropriate inspectors, request that he/she obtains all final inspections prior to your final payment. However you must abide by your contract.
- Make sure your contractor provides you with releases of liens from his subcontractors and suppliers attesting that the contractor has paid all subcontractors and suppliers of materials for their services.
Before signing a contract, be certain your contract includes:
- The contractors name, street address, telephone number and state or local license number.
- A precise description of the work to be completed, including a draw schedule and list of materials.
- Completion date, including cleanup after work is finished.
- All construction debris is removed by the contractor.
- Warranty agreements, including length, terms and recourse. Identify provisions that would void the warranty.
- Read your contract carefully and personally fill in any blank spaces. Consider having an attorney review the contract.
Beware of unlicensed contractors:
- If you are planning to build a new home, a room addition, add on a second story, begin remodeling on your home, or have work done that requires a building permit, take care to select a qualified person to perform the work. Under local ordinances, any person you hire under contract (verbal or written) to perform construction on your property must be registered with the City of Arlington as a contractor. It would be beneficial to see if the contractor’s advertisements show his or her state license number.
- Beware of anyone that asks you to obtain the building permit as an “owner/builder”, this may indicate that they themselves are not properly licensed to obtain the permit.
- Also beware of people that claim that you will save quite a bit of money by not obtaining a permit. A permit will only lead to compliance with the appropriate building codes, these are only minimum requirements.
- Unlicensed contractors do not have insurance coverage. Any injury that occurs on your property may be a claim against your insurance.