Home renovations have continued to rise since the onset of COVID. People are starting to do more DIY projects because of the more time on their hands, as well as thinking about how to make their home more comfortable because they spend more time in it. According to Statista, “finally getting time for it” was the number one reason for home improvement in the United States. Additionally, with housing prices rising, people hire a contractor and choose to upgrade their existing homes rather than buy a new one.
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While many undertake small projects on their own, others make larger improvements that require a contractor. Contractors found themselves busier, booking months in advance and prices skyrocketing due to limited supply and high demand. However, it is important to ensure that you are working with the right contractor to ensure that the work is done correctly, that they adhere to city codes and will stand behind their work if you encounter problems.
Here are four important things to consider when hiring a contractor:
Hire licensed contractors Licensed contractors have taken the time to obtain the license as well as the appropriate permits, are familiar with the legal processes and are trained to meet all of the city’s requirements. They will comply with the necessary inspections for both quality and safety, and most licensed contractors also offer liability insurance, which protects the homeowner in the event of personal and bodily injury or property damage. Finally, licensed contractors are more willing to take responsibility for errors or problems, because if a claim is submitted to the Arizona Contractors Registrar, they risk losing their license. To see if the contractor is licensed, check here: https://roc.az.gov/search/node/roc%20contractorsearch
Check insurance and bonding It is important for the contractor to have insurance. You can verify this by asking them for a copy of their Certificate of Insurance (COI) or you can contact the insurance company directly to verify coverage. If they do not have insurance, you may be liable for any accidents or damages that may occur. The bond contract sets the legal and ethical standards for the contractor. If the client feels that these standards are not being met, he can file a claim against the bond if the contractor is not willing to stand by his business.
Get it all in writing Securing a written contract before starting work. Make sure all details are included and that they are clear and accurate. The contract should include details of the work to be performed by the contractor, what the contractor will provide and bear, price, timing, responsibilities (responsibility for building permits, HOA notifications and approvals, removal of rubbish and debris, etc.) and guarantees provided and signatures by both parties. Ask for written confirmation that all applicable permits have been obtained. All parties must acknowledge in writing any changes to the contract. Consider having a lawyer review the contract before you sign it.
Learn about the cancellation policy The contract must include a termination clause. Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, during which you can cancel the contract without penalty. Most contracts include a clause that enables either party to cancel or terminate the contract. If you decide to cancel a signed contract, it is a good idea to send a notice of cancellation via registered mail so that you have proof of the cancellation. At least make sure it’s written.
As you plan your next renovation project, remember that selecting the right contractor and hiring the right contractor is the most important step in the process. With the above tips, you will feel confident about the contractor you choose, and you will be able to look forward to the final product with enthusiasm.
author: Lauren Souds is a Principal Member and Equity Partner of the Kavanaugh Law Firm. Her practice focuses on litigating personal injury matters, buildings, product liability, construction defects, wrongful death claims, and more. It also handles matters relating to insurance coverage and represents clients in a variety of industries, from construction to healthcare.