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Hiring a contractor, Part 1: Taking the vitals

The State of Arizona has strict rules and regulations that govern contractors.

And to us, that is a very good thing.

Whether we read about it in the news, or have calls to the show, there are a number of crooked contractors out there looking to take advantage of you and take your hard-earned money.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a large number of good contractors out there. We want to protect you from those who are seeking to take advantage of you. This week, we’ll take you through six vital tips to help evaluate potential contractors:

• Is the contractor licensed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors?

The ROC has an easy-to-use search function. You can search by the company name, owner name and license number. Once you find them, carefully review each file you find.

• Do they have unresolved complaints on file?

Check their record to see if they have any unresolved complaints on file. The ROC has four typical complaint categories — “Disciplined, “Bankruptcy,” “Settled” or “Withdrawn.” If a complaint has been withdrawn or settled, that means the contractor has rectified the situation. If the complaint falls in any other category, it may be cause for concern.

• Does the license the company have match the kind of work you are hiring it to do?

The Arizona ROC requires contractors to hold a license for the work they doing. For example, you can’t be a roofer and also do plumbing, unless you have BOTH the roofing and the plumbing licenses. Make sure the license or licenses they have align with ALL the work you are hiring them to do. And again, check each license carefully for any unresolved complaints.

• What is the contractor’s history with the Better Business Bureau?

Go to BBB.org to search for your contractor’s rating and comments.

• Is the contractor bonded and insured appropriately?

Make sure you see evidence of that. Ask to see the paperwork if it isn’t offered. Check the expiration dates of both to ensure it will be in effect through your job’s date of completion. Also, make sure that the bond sufficiently covers the volume of work done each year. Bond regulations can be found at the Arizona ROC’s site.

• Has the contractor obtained all the building permits required for the work it is doing?

Once the contractor obtains the permits (the company’s responsibility, not yours), make sure you see them yourself. Applying for these permits triggers the local building official to inspect the work, ensuring the job was completed to code. If the contractor tries to talk you out of this, or refuses to pull permits, that is a red flag. Cross that contractor off your list right away.

These steps do take some time, but the due diligence is worth it every time.

Our mission at Rosie on the House is to be every Arizona homeowner’s best friend and we work to protect you every week with tips and guidelines for all your home-improvement projects.

The contractors we recommend through our referral network are held to an even stricter set of guidelines, above and beyond what is outlined here. Look for those tips in next week’s article Part 2: Dating your contractor.

You can find our screened and approved contractors, advice and do-it-yourself tips, for your house, home, castle or cabin, at every Arizona homeowner’s best friend — RosieontheHouse.com

Be sure to tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast.