Tips for Selecting a Contractor
Every disaster has its share of opportunists trying to take advantage of disaster victims. Take time to evaluate the contractor who may be doing the job. The City of Fargo Inspections Division suggests that you consider the following when selecting a contractor:
- Be wary of contractors soliciting business door-to-door. Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, and business license.
- Ask contractors if they have done this type of repair work before, if they will be purchasing necessary permits, and if they will request inspections for the work.
- Determine if the contractor, electrician, or plumber is licensed. All contractors doing business in North Dakota are required to be licensed through the Secretary of State’s office. While a license does not guarantee the quality of the work, business registration and contractor licensing do require the contractor to have minimal liability insurance and a surety bond that can help protect the consumer if there is a problem. You can reach the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-352-0867, extension 8-3665, or on their web site at http://www.nd.gov/sos/licensing/. You can also find out how long the contractor has been in business and whether there have been any complaints against them.
- In addition, home roofers, plumbers, and heating/air conditioning contractors must be licensed through the City of Fargo. You can verify those licenses through the City Auditor’s Office at 701-241-1300. Electricians must be licensed by the North Dakota State Electrical Board. You can reach their office at 701-328-9522.
- If possible, get three separate bids on the job.
- Look for a company that readily offers client references, when requested, and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out whether they were satisfied.
- Obtain a written contract signed by both parties.
- Be cautious in dealing with a contractor who asks for a large down-payment. Pay the contractor at the end of the job, or pay only for the portion of the job that has been completed. Avoid making final payment until you have received a lien release.
- Carefully read any warrantee offered and watch for provisions that would void it.
Other possible considerations:
- Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry associations.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau at 701-271-2855 or on their web site to check for a business report or any complaints that have been filed on a contractor or do a search for any concerns.
- Have contractors 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.
The lowest bid is not always the best choice. Professionalism and quality workmanship should play a large part in your decision. Don’t make price the only criterion for selecting a contractor.