It’s the first rule of being a smart consumer: buyer beware. By carefully researching and shopping around, homeowners seeking to hire a contractor for home improvement projects are better prepared to make an informed decision and can avoid problems. Taking the time to properly research and compare your options is key in having an enjoyable home improvement experience. Ian Robinson, managing broker of the Northbrook office for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, says, “Your new home is one of the largest investments you will ever make. Obtain several bids on the exact same project and don’t just go for the cheapest price—in many cases, homeowners get exactly what they pay for. A quality contractor will not only produce a great end result they will stay within budget, make the promised deadlines, and deliver great customer service.”
“Employing a reputable contractor for projects raises a home’s value, makes it aesthetically beautiful and provides more enjoyment for years to come,” says Jeff Hester, vice president of Hester Painting & Decorating. “Our company has come to the rescue of many home improvement project nightmares in our 45 years in business.” For example, Hester recently assisted a client who was forced to fire the original painter for a home renovation project because very little preparation work was performed. In order to complete the job at the price submitted, the first painter cut corners and carelessly applied the finish coats. Hester Painting & Decorating was then hired to re-paint the majority of the home with the proper preparation and attention to details.
The experts at Hester Painting & Decorating encourage homeowners to always make fully informed decisions when hiring any home improvement contractors. They recommend five key guidelines to help ensure a positive experience:
1. Compare apples to apples. Obtain written estimates from your bidders on exactly the same scope of work. Don’t let them generalize with vague terms. Tell them to itemize all steps of their work and specify exactly what brands and products they intend to use. Also confirm the start date and expected completion dates as well as their available crew size. Keep in mind that a small crew may require much more time to finish the job. Develop a checklist to compare all bidders side by side in regards to all important factors.
2. Protect your belongings. There are two major concerns involving insurance. The more obvious one is to make sure the contractor is fully insured to cover your entire home, furniture, artwork, etc., not just the room being worked on. While damage to a home can be as simple as a nick in the doorframe from the contractor’s ladder, there’s always the chance of something much more significant happening, like a fire or water damage, putting the entire home at risk, thus the need for at least $2 million in general liability. Also, always request to see the contractor’s certificate of insurance to prove the coverages, and have them add your name as an Additional Insured on the policy.
3. Protect yourself from fake subcontractors. Another incredibly important aspect of their insurance is the Workman’s Compensation insurance, which allows you protection if their employee gets hurt on your job. In recent years, many contractors have changed their employees to subcontractors to avoid payroll taxes and workman’s compensation insurance. However, these “subcontractors” have no insurance of their own. If they get injured in your home, many times the contractor’s insurance will not cover the injured employee, which could lead to your homeowner’s insurance being dragged into the claim. The best way to protect yourself from this risk is to demand confirmation in writing that all workers on your job are actually their employees, and if they claim to be subcontractors, then demand proof of insurance from each one of their subcontractors too.
To read the rest of Hester’s 5 Key Steps, click here.
Hester Painting & Decorating has been providing homes and high-profile commercial establishments in the Chicagoland area with high-end painting and decorating services for over 45 years, and has been honored to be selected the Best Painter by the readers of Make It Better magazine for two consecutive years. Widely regarded as a leader in the fields of painting, faux finishing and wallcovering installation, Hester Painting & Decorating utilizes an enormous repertoire of finishes and techniques to create distinctive environments for its clients. For more information, visit www.hesterdecorating.com or call 847-677-5130.
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