BBB’s advice on hiring a home improvement contractor


By John North - Contributing columnist



While spending more time at home during the pandemic, we noticed improvements that needed to be made to our home. You may try to tackle some projects yourself, but the bigger tasks may require professional help. You may save yourself time and money by hiring a home improvement contractor.

Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been a homeowner for years, you’ll understand that homeownership comes with a lot of responsibility. A contractor can help you with some of these responsibilities. Painting, installing roofing, replacing flooring, etc. are just some improvements a contractor can help with. Contractors will oversee your home projects to ensure the job’s done correctly and efficiently. Knowing how to hire a contractor and finding the right one will help make your project a success.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers these tips for hiring a home improvement contractor:

• Research. Look at online reviews and get recommendations from friends and family.

• Ask contractors for a list of recent references. Ask the references about the services performed and their overall experience with the contractor, as well as the quality of work. Ask if the contractor stuck to the estimated budget and completion date for the project. If possible, inspect the contractor’s work yourself.

• Ask if the contractor is a member of a professional association that has standards or a code of ethics.

• Get quotes from multiple businesses. Remember the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid. If one bid is significantly lower than the others, the contractor may be cutting corners or may not understand your work requirements.

• Verify license and insurance. Once you have your contractor’s insurance information, call the carrier to confirm appropriate coverage.

• Confirm building permits if needed. A contractor must obtain the correct permits before starting any project.

• Arrange a payment schedule. Don’t pay in full up-front. Do a payment plan so your final payment isn’t due until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Don’t pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or that you use a credit card. Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “paid in full” when the job is completed and your final payment is made.

• Get everything in writing. Never let any work begin without a signed contract. The contract should include contact information, start and completion dates, a detailed description of the exact work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements and warranty information. It should specify who is to obtain necessary building permits and who is responsible for clean-up. Make sure all verbal promises are included in the contract. Never sign an incomplete or partially blank contract.

For more information about hiring a contractor, visit BBB.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. BBB can provide a list of BBB accredited businesses in the industry and business profiles on ones you may be considering.

By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.