In a perfect world, every contractor would be a bona fide Boy Scout. That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of honest, dependable and competent professionals in our industry. But sadly, there are far too many snakes in the grass to proceed without caution when you want to hire a contractor.
If you are blessed to live in the greater St Cloud, Little Falls, Alexandria or Brainerd, MN area, then you can rest assured the Exterior Pro team will treat you like family (and just to be clear, we love our family members and take care of them accordingly).
But what if you live too far away to engage our roofing and other exterior remodeling services? In that case, we hope you’ll follow our tips for hiring a home repair contractor. They can save you a lot of money and spare you a lot of aggravation in the long run!
Treat Door-to-Door Salesmen With Extreme Caution
We don’t want to categorically denounce every single contractor who solicits business by knocking on strangers’ doors. Some of them are the real deal, although too many of them are fly-by-nighters who corner people in their homes with a high-pressure sales tactic.
A great number of door-knockers come in from out of state – especially after a large hailstorm has created business opportunities – and promise results they have no intention of delivering. And if you think these guys are going to stand by their work in the event it turns out to be defective (which it very often is), then you’d may as well hope Santa Claus fixes your roof the next time he parks his sleigh there.
Insist on a Contractor That Is Licensed, Bonded and Insured
Licensed, bonded and insured: the trifecta of a legitimate professional.
- A licensed contractor has demonstrated their competence to the state government, and has something of enormous value to lose if they fail to meet the standards of their trade.
- A bonded contractor has partnered with a surety company that will step in to compensate for their unfinished or unsatisfactory work.
- An insured contractor will not wind up costing their client if one of their employees or subcontractors accidentally injures themself on the client’s property.
A reputable contractor will provide proof they are licensed, bonded and insured without hesitation. A disreputable one will promise those documents and never deliver them – or vanish before you can press the issue any further.
Ask for References
If a contractor has competently served your area for any decent amount of time, then they should have no trouble producing a long list of satisfied clients. They will provide this list the first time you ask for it. Once they have, give those contacts a call and ask for their honest opinions.
A contractor without references may have a horrendous track record, very little experience, or no history of working in your neighborhood. A contractor who is new to your neck of the woods isn’t necessarily a crook, although they may have no incentive to garner a positive reputation in the area you call home.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) doesn’t provide references per se, but the non-profit organization’s record of complaints against contractors can prove highly enlightening. Likewise, you may learn something interesting by consulting the online database of the Minnesota Judicial Branch (or the judicial branch of whichever state you live in). If it shows that a certain contractor has been the defendant in multiple lawsuits, then they probably aren’t just unlucky in business.
Don’t Sign a Contract Until You’re Good and Ready
If your home’s exterior has been damaged during a storm, then you no doubt can’t wait for it to look good and keep out moisture again. In the lexicon of salesmen, that’s called “urgency” – and unscrupulous contractors know how to exploit it. They’ll promise a fast resolution to your pressing needs, slide a contract in front of you, and assert that you won’t find a better deal anywhere else.
Don’t let your anxiety turn you into an easy mark. An honest storm and hail damage contractor will never coax you into signing a contract within minutes of presenting one. They understand that a reasonable homeowner should seek multiple bids before committing to a contract, and refuse to make you feel pressured for their own financial gain.
Don’t Pay 100% Upfront
Allstate couldn’t have put it any better: “Some contractors may require a partial upfront payment, but the amount should not exceed approximately 20% of the total estimate amount.” A forthright contractor will agree to a draw schedule, in which they are paid a portion of the total project cost whenever they reach a milepost. A dishonest one will ask for 100% of the project cost upfront. They may explain that they need it to buy materials or for some other reason, when in reality they intend to take your money and disappear with it.Once again, if you live in the greater St Cloud, Little Falls, Alexandria or Brainerd, MN area, then our biggest tip is to contact Exterior Pro today for your free estimate. We’re committed to earning your business the right way: by doing quality work and nothing else.