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June 29, 2010

10 tips for hiring the best contractor for remodels or repair

Audio available

TUMWATER – We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone who got burned by a bad contractor. Here are 10 tips from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) when hiring a contractor:

  1. Plan your project. The more clearly you can describe what you want done, the less chance there is for miscommunication or cost overruns.
  2. Interview several qualified registered contractors/remodelers and solicit multiple written bids. Evaluate all aspects of the bids, including scope of work, warranties, references, time frames and price.
  3. Make sure a contractor is registered, with a bond and insurance. Ask for their identification and contractor registration, then verify potential contractors at Lni.wa.gov. The “Look Up: Contractors or Tradespeople” link will show how long a contractor has been registered, if they have lawsuits against their bond and if they have been cited for violations.
  4. Check whether a contractor is paying workers’ comp. If someone is hurt on your property, you can be held liable. Make sure your contractor is up to date on workers’ compensation insurance if they will have workers on the job site.
  5. Check for other complaints. Check with the Attorney General’s Office (http://www.atg.wa.gov/SafeguardingConsumers.aspx) and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org)
  6. Check references. Verify references by visiting a job site in progress and interviewing the homeowner.
  7. Ask for a disclosure statement before work begins. A disclosure statement clearly states the contractor’s registration and bond information.
  8. Watch for signs of a scam. High-pressure sales techniques, asking for all cash, or working on just weekends can be signs you’re dealing with a shady character. Remember: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is.
  9. Pay for work as it is completed. Beware of contractors asking for large deposits or entire costs upfront. You want to pay for progress on the project as it is completed.
  10. Get lien releases from subcontractors. Prior to making final payment, make sure your subcontractors aren’t owed any money. Unpaid subcontractors can hold you responsible for their work by putting liens on your home.

The bottom line when hiring a contractor: Check with the state before it’s too late.

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For media information: Selena Davis, L&I, 360-902-6593.

Audio message (15 seconds)

Click the "play" button to listen or download audio (right-click and choose "save as" or "save link as.")

Voice of Selena Davis, L&I communications manager:

"There are a lot of shady contractors out there but there are a lot of good ones too, and those are the ones we want people to hire. So we encourage people before they hire any contractor to go to our website and look up that contractor to make sure he is registered with the state. They can do that by going to lni.wa.gov."

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