St Paul Handyman: Hiring a Handyman Service or Contractor

Handyman Service St Paul:  Tips from your friendly neighborhood handyman:  What every homeowner should know before they hire a handyman service or contractor.

“I need a new roof installed in my home and am concerned about the horror stories of homeowners being ripped off by shoddy contractors, what is the best way to protect myself?”
- Jan S. Ann Arbor.

Hi Jan, you are definitely on the right track because it’s all about research. You have the right to be concerned with any home improvement contractor. Currently, contractors are seven out of the top twenty inquiries with the Better Business from January to August 2009.

I’ve being in the contracting world for 17 years and wish more homeowners would begin as you are, by asking questions. Too often I’ve seen homeowners sign a contract with a contractor they found in the Yellow Pages with the largest ad or the first listing in Google. Many of us have made the mistake of contracting with a company because of the “nice salesman”, without further investigating the company and regretted it.

Our homes are typically the largest investment and we need to take time to ensure that we are hiring reputable home improvement contractors. Otherwise we could be making repairs after the job is completed, or overpaying or even worse ending up in court. There are many “good guy” contractors who make an honest living by serving others and they are not difficult to find, but we must take our time do our homework. Below are six tips to help you find the best home improvement contractor.

1. Verify insurance. Workers Compensation insurance protects you if a worker is injured on your property. Liability Insurance protects you if any of your property is damaged. Call the insurance company to ensure it is up to date and request to have your name on the certificate. By having your name on the certificate, you will be notified if the contractor cancel’s the policy during your project.

2. Get all estimates and warranties in writing. All warranties and estimates must be detailed in writing. It will help protect you as a consumer and avoid misunderstandings. Also, does the estimate include labor and materials? Does the warrantee include labor and materials? Verify how they handle change orders?

3. Check references. Talk with past customers and ask them if they would use this contractor again? Does the company stand behind their warranties? Do they show up on time? Would you refer them to their friends and neighbors? What would be the one thing they should improve? . . . Don’t hesitate to ask, most people are glad to help.

4. How long has the company been in business? Warranties are as good as the company. If they are out of business, in many cases so is your warranty.

5. Verify license. Check with your state licensing department. If a license is applicable for your project, the state may help protect you in case of faulty workmanship. If a permit is needed, ensure the contractor picks it up, not the homeowner.  

6. Multiple quotes. Get an estimate from multiple contractors to ensure you are comparing apples with apples. Many very low priced estimates do not include the entire project.

By asking these questions, it will help you avoid being ripped off or over charged. Any reputable home improvement company will gladly provide you with the information in the aforementioned list. If the contractor will not provide the information or are irritated by your questions, it will help make your decision easier - Do Not Use Them. Most home improvement contractors are “good guy’s”. Ask the right questions and you will find them.

HandyPro Handyman Services provides home repairs and maintenance in over 1600 categories of service including carpentry, plumbing, electrical, seasonal maintenance, remodeling and additions.  They are also the only handyman service to be certified in senior home modification to provide services like installing wheelchair ramps and stair lifts and remodeling bathrooms and kitchens to improve accessibility and mobility in the home.

Collin Dickey serves the Twin Cities area, St Paul, Minneapolis and surrounding neighborhoods.  No job is too big for the local handyman and no job too small to be handled with respect and attention to detail.