Tips on how to play it smart when hiring a contractor
Sep 14, 2023, 3:00 PM
Homeowner headaches happen to all of us. Your refrigerator breaks down, your toilet leaks, or maybe your roof lost some tiles in last night’s storm. In a perfect world, you call a contractor for help. They arrive on time, fix the problem, charge a fair price, and sail off into the sunset.
Unfortunately, not all contractors are created equal, and the best-case scenario is not always the typical experience.
We are seeing an increase in people, especially vulnerable people, being taken advantage of by opportunistic contractors. Some contractors focus on gross revenue dollars rather than what is best for the homeowner.
The Price of Doing Business
We do understand what it takes to run a legitimate company. Markup is an essential practice to stay in business. Companies must be able to pay their bills. The expenses for contractors include licensing, bonding, and insurance. The rising costs of trucks, tools, and products translate into increased consumer costs. Then there is the cost of employee compensation with benefits, not to mention advertising dollars. Yes, it is incredibly expensive to run a business. Contracting is not for the faint of heart!
Large nationwide conglomerates have bought out many of our local companies. This can significantly impact the corporate culture within the company and move their focus away from the needs and satisfaction of the homeowner. In many cases, the training for the trades has been replaced with training in sales.
Major categories of home services, like HVAC, plumbing, and roofing, recruit employees by offering them competitive salary jobs. A fair-salaried technician’s job can become a very lucrative commission-based compensation package. The technicians are trained to look for opportunities to raise revenue for every job site visit.
The farther away the headquarters are, it seems, the less care and concern there is for the customer by these sales-minded companies.
Play it Smart — It is the Consumer’s Job to be on the Offensive!
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
P – Pay attention.
- Pay attention to detail! It will pay big dividends. At the very least, homeowners should check to make sure that the company is licensed, insured, and bonded at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.
- Check their online reviews. Look at the first several reviews. Then scroll down to see if there are reviews at the bottom that tell a different story.
- Put the burden of trust on the contractor. Ask for recent referrals and call their previous customers.
L – Listen between the lines.
- What are they spending their time talking about? Are they there to perform a service, or are they there to up-sell you?
- Some companies will offer a free inspection. That is not always a bad thing, but high-pressure techniques are. Scare tactics are often used to sell services that are not necessary or urgent.
A – Ask Lots of questions!
- What are the services that will be performed?
- What do they cost? Let the tech know you want to know the price BEFORE the work is started.
- Sometimes a tech will ask if the customer wants something EXTRA done and proceed without discussing the price. Don’t let this happen in your house!
- What is not covered in the estimate?
- What are the details of the warranty?
Y- You are in control.
- Choose the contractor you want. Don’t be pressured by door knockers or phone salesman. You are not obligated to answer the phone or the door to people you do not know! Do not let strangers in your home.
- Don’t be rushed into a decision.
- Consider having a trusted confidant to help ensure you make the best decision.
Check out this website for tips on how to avoid fraud committed against the elderly.
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Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on X and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.