CAUTION AHEAD When Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
MIKE (Stronghold Floors): "I was having a conversation with our insurance agent Bill about licensing for Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) in different states where we work. I was telling him about how many of our “competitors” are not properly licensed/certified/registered. Of course, being in the insurance industry, he had some stories to tell me. He also took the initiative to write the following article for our blog. Please take a minute to read Bill’s advice."
So You Are Going To Have a Contractor Work In Your Home? Good Luck!
Today’s very busy - need it yesterday - world sometimes gets us into trouble. If we had just taken a breath and done it right the first time, the outcome would have been so much better. So how does this apply to construction in your home?
First and foremost, you need to be working with a contractor who is registered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which became law on October 17, 2008, required contractor’s registration by July 1, 2009 and carries serious criminal and civil penalties if it is not followed. The State’s Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcement and since inception has filed numerous civil and criminal actions against both large and small contractors alike.
Go to http://hicsearch.attorneygeneral.gov/ to ensure your chosen contractor is registered with the Commonwealth of PA. (Total Elapsed Time – 3 Minutes)
Next - CONFIRM THEY HAVE INSURANCE. Ask that their insurance agent email you a “Certificate of Insurance” showing proof of current coverage. My insurance agency issues over 50,000 certificates or proofs of coverage every year – and we do it free of charge for our customers. All it takes is a phone call from the contractor to the agent. You want the agent to issue it because it confirms coverage is in place on the day the agent issues the certificate of insurance. Anyone can show you a certificate from a year ago. This does not mean they have insurance. Get the current agent to issue to you, a current Certificate of Insurance.
Pennsylvania has one of the longest Statutes of Repose on construction in the United States (12 Years). This means that your biggest concern may not be when the contractor is actually working in your home, but the liability of that work for years after the construction is complete. For example, if you have a contractor put in new floor tile and three months later a guest in your home slips and falls and injures their skull to the point of no longer being able to communicate, who is responsible? You? The Contractor? The Injured Person? The time to ensure the contractor has coverage was when you hired the contractor, not after the claim has occurred. If you wait until then, you may not like the answer. (Total Elapsed Time – 3 Minutes)
Last but not least – Ask for 5 references and pictures of the projects completed for those references. Call the references and ask questions about the project they had completed by the contractor. Remember to ask when the project was completed. If not in the last 18 months you may have some concerns as to the contractor’s current work. (Total Elapsed Time – 30 Minutes)
So, it only takes roughly 36 minutes of your time to confirm that you will have a project completed which will leave you and your family happy with for years to come – Not a bad investment! Good Luck! - Bill
Our insurance agent, Bill Greenawalt of The Glatfelter Agency, provided the article above. He has assisted us for over a decade. He knows insurance the way we know floor coatings! Thanks Bill for this sage advice.
One way to determine if a HIC contractor is properly licensed and insured is to use a service like HomeAdvisor.com. They screen and approve each contractor on a yearly basis after first adding them to their list of contractors.
Stronghold Floors has been on HomeAdvisor since 2006. We are an ELITE service provider on their platform with over 150 reviews between our two profiles (MD and VA).
Angie's List? Cannot Recommend Asking Angie Anymore!
Are you located in Virginia? Virginia has a tough process to license contractors that helps weed out the "fly by night" guys. Check out Finding a Licensed Epoxy Flooring Contractor in Virginia to learn more.