There are many things to consider before you hire a flooring company, or any contractor before you allow them into your home. We have all heard horror stories of what happens if you hire the wrong crew. Bad quality of work, poor service, no shows, and even outright theft and deception are just a few reasons it is important to do your homework prior to hiring the right team to implement your improvement project.
It is well worth a little bit of time and effort to check out the qualifications and reputation of the company you will have in your home. And with so much information available on the internet, it is easier than ever to investigate the various companies you are considering and to make the wisest choice. Here are some of the things you should consider and some good questions to ask.
Is this company licensed and insured? Besides the standard mercantile business license, many municipalities also require a separate home improvement contractor license. Check this out carefully and be sure that licenses are current, in compliance with local laws, and with no complaints or delinquencies filed. Many states now also require that companies be registered and licensed with the state authority in order to be legally permitted to perform work within that stat. The federal government now also requires all flooring and home improvement contractors to be licensed and certified with the “Toxic substances control act”, so they can be legally qualified to handle certain harmful substances, such as asbestos, that may be lingering in your home.
Is the company, and any worker or subcontractor, fully insured? Did you know that if a worker is injured in your home and they are not covered by adequate workers’ compensation or liability insurance YOU can be sued to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and disability? PROTECT YOURSELF! Ask for a certificate of insurance! It should ONLY be issued by the insurance company DIRECTLY to you and should include proof of coverage including limits for property damage, accidents, worker compensation for an injury, automobile, umbrella, or more. You can require to be specifically listed as an additional insured on this policy AT NO COST. This requires the insurance company to notify you if there is a lapse of cancellation of coverage.
How long have you been in business? Obviously longer is better. If they have been around for ten or more years they must be doing something right. Fifty percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. Do you really want to risk hiring a team that may not be around a few years later if you have a problem or need them back?
Do you have a showroom or store I can come to visit? A business with a physical location is always the better bet. You can go in ahead of time to look at and inspect flooring products, styles, colors, etc. Plus it also gives you a chance to meet the people you will have to deal with and get a feel for how they operate. Is this the place I feel comfortable doing business with? Companies or contractors who operate out of a van, car, or P.O. box is riskier. You have nowhere to go after a job is done and there are problems. It is too easy for them to hide from you and become “fly by night.”
What is the warranty that comes with my completed project? Your warranty should be part of the contract and in print. It should include what is covered, exclusions, and the time period of how long the warranty is good for. Warranties can vary widely from one company to another and a good warranty can give you valuable recourse if there are problems or if you are not satisfied. Many states, including Pennsylvania, now actually REQUIRE that home improvement companies have clear written warranties as part of any contract. Also, the manufacturer of the flooring product you choose to put in your home will also have a warranty for that product. The warranty will also specify a timeline and what is covered or not.
What EXACTLY am I getting for my money? Your WRITTEN proposal AND contract should be clear and specific. All prices and options should be clear and definite. Don’t fall for vague “time and material” additions. The scope of the work should state exactly what will be performed and where, including specific details, product sizes, colors, and methods to be used. You should also know what is NOT included in what option, and costs, you may have. You are also entitled to an approximate (or exact) start date in writing, upfront prices, and all conditions and payment terms should be clear.
Is the boss or owner of the job? Who supervises the crew to assure good quality and service? It is obviously best if a manager or owner of the company is on-site to issue that you get the best of everything. It is also better in that you only have to deal with one qualified superior if you have questions or concerns. And then you don’t have to call or run back to the store to get answers or actions.
Do you use subcontractors or do you have your own crew? The use of subcontractors is not automatically a bad thing, but you have a right to know and be able to check out independent subs too. All the same, rules, and requirements apply to subs as well. They are considered separate independent businesses and legal entities. They ALSO need to be licensed and insured. Being independent means they may have other or different priorities than the company you hired. They may not adhere to the same policies, practices, warranties, or quality you thought you would get.
What qualifications and experience does your crew have? You are entitled to know who will be in your home, what is their level of training and expertise, and how long have they been with the company.
Can you provide a list of written references? We like to provide a list of customers so you can pick and choose who you call from nearby or far. We also provide recent customers so you can see how we are CURRENTLY doing, and some customers from five or more years ago so you can learn how the work has held up over time. Always ask for at least a dozen names or more. That way they can’t just give your friends and relatives of the company. And if they can only provide a few references would you really hire them?
Can I check you out online on the internet? By all means, take the time to check out their reputation online. It is too NOT to do it! Angie’s List. The Better Business Bureau. Yelp. Google. Professional trade associations and neighborhood groups are just some of the places that you can discover the full scoop (both good and bad) about the company you are about to hire. And it’s all free information!
The investment of a little bit of investigative time and due diligence on your part is well worth it. You can assure that you will get a good long-lasting job at a good price. You can avoid legal battles and disputes. You can skip the problems and horror stories. And you can begin enjoying your new high-quality floors as soon as the job is done!