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Residential 10 Tips

10 Important Tips for Hiring a Contractor Who Is Right for You

1. Call a trusted friend or neighbor. Reputation and word-of-mouth are critical.

    • A contractor who’s been recommended by someone you know and trust is a safer route. Nothing beats first-hand experience with a contractor’s quality of work and attention to service.

2. Contact the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan (which covers Northern Michigan as well) at 1-800-334-2406 or www.westernmichigan.bbb.org or the Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area, Inc. at 1-800-422-5166 or www.hbagta.com to see if they have information about the contractor you’re considering.

3. Get references. Ask the contractor for local references and call them to see if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work.

4. Don’t go according to low price alone. Review your estimate carefully. Make sure you understand all costs and potential future costs. Some competitors are known to use “change orders” as standard procedure to create the illusion of lower costs at first – only to leave the customer to pay for more repairs/replacements down the line.

5. Know the contractor’s experience and expertise. Some mechanical contractors focus solely on repairs and have little experience or training in installing advanced systems.

6. Make sure the contractor is insured. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Here are some high-level points to look for:

    • General Liability Insurance: This insurance covers property damage or bodily injury to non employees of the contractor while performing his/her duties. Limits may vary.
    • Workers Compensation: This is coverage protecting the owner from liability involving an injury to a worker on the jobsite. Some coverage excludes the company owner. If the owner is performing work on the jobsite, he/she should be required to show proof of coverage. If the contractor does not have worker’s compensation insurance, property owners can be held responsible for an injury to a contractor or contractor’s employees while working on their property.

7. Make sure the contractor is licensed and/or bonded. Ask to see a copy of certificate of insurance or ask for the name of their insurance carrier to verify that the contractor has insurance. Licensing and/or bonding is required, so ask to see a copy of the document to ensure that the contractor is properly licensed or bonded.Plumber’s Licensure’s:

    • Journeyman Plumber or Gas Fitter License: A license issued after a plumber or gas fitter has successfully completed a training term of at least two years and successfully passes a journeyman’s exam.
    • Master Plumber or Gas Fitter License: A license issued to anyone who successfully completes a master plumber or master gas fitter exam issued by the prevailing licensing authority in their jurisdiction. This license is required to do business as a plumbing contractor in Michigan and to perform work within the local area.

Contractor’s Licensure’s:

    • Homebuilder’s License: This license is a registration of plumbing and other specialty contractors who perform work valued at less than $17,500 on residential projects. Residential plumbing contracts carry this level of license.
    • Mechanical Contractor’s License: Issued through the State Labor, Licensing and Regulation Board, it demonstrates that the business is qualified to perform mechanical work under three categories. Generally, residential repairs or renovations under $17,500 will not require a license. Mechanical work exceeding $17,500 requires at least a Level One mechanical license.
    • General Contractor’s License: Required of contractors who act as a primary general contractor on a project exceeding $30,000.
    • Permit Bond: This is required by many municipalities. This bond guarantees payment of all permit fees and other regulatory fees accrued for a particular job up to the bond limit.

8. Know your local permit requirements for your residential project. Some municipalities require special permits for performing certain plumbing repairs or installations. Owners are encouraged to check with their local governing municipality to ensure that the proper permits are obtained.

9. Post a notice of commencement.

10. Never pay for work that is not completed. Also, make sure all suppliers and labor have been paid for through a sworn statement.