Hiring a reputable contractor
PBA consists of businesses working to assure you of high quality and up-to-date workmanship for your new home or remodeling project. The first step to finding a professional contractor is hiring a member of the Pennsylvania Builders Association. Click here to find the local builders association that serves your county.
Even by hiring a member of PBA, there are many things to look for in a reputable contractor.
Consumers: New law another protection tool to identify reliable contractors
Beginning July 1, 2009, Pennsylvanians have a new method to ensure they hire a reputable contractor. The new Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act requires all home improvement contractors that work in Pennsylvania to be registered with the state's Attorney General's office. Consumers can check to see if a specific contractor is registered by visiting the AG's HIC search page at http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/hicsearch/.
Simple steps to choosing the right contractor
- Call your local builders association for a list of its members.
- Ask if the contractor is a member of a builders association.
- Take your time. Most problems occur when consumers fail to investigate contractors carefully before hiring them.
- Ask for an insurance certificate to verify current workers' compensation and general liability insurance.
- Ask for references. Talk with others who have had work done by the contractor about the company's capabilities and quality of workmanship.
- Make sure the contractor has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.
- Incorporate any warranties, guarantees or other promises in your written contract. Always insist on a written contract and written change orders.
- Be specific about starting and completion dates. Some delays are unavoidable and beyond the contractor's control.
- Beware of an unusually low bid or low advertised price. If a contractor cannot pay for labor, materials and overhead, you are both in trouble.
- Select a contractor you are comfortable with--one who understands your tastes and needs and with whom you can communicate easily.
Warning signs of possible trouble ahead when selecting a contractor:
- You cannot verify the name, address and telephone number or credentials of the contractor.
- The salesperson tries to "high pressure" you into signing a contract by using scare tactics, threats or intimidation.
- Although reputable builders sometimes offer special discounts for advertising purposes, watch out for contractors who offer unusually low prices in exchange for advertising. Protect yourself by asking the contractor for a list of previous clients who also had been offered the special rate in exchange for advertising considerations
- Call the references and ask them if they received the promised quality workmanship and special rate.
- The contractor does not comply with your request for references or the references have some reservation about the contractor.
- You are unable to verify that the contractor is insured.
PBA has a brochure available to assist consumers in hiring a reputable contractor. To download the brochure, click here. To request a copy to be mailed, click here.