With hurricane season around the corner, homeowners have already begun to brace themselves for potential damage. Stocking up on food and water is a good way to prepare, but where do you start once the skies have cleared? The likelihood of needing a home improvement contractor spikes. Conditions are right for the perfect storm of unethical opportunists to blow through your town.
Be cautious when choosing a home improvement contractor. The first step in the process is making sure they are licensed.
According to the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, contractors must display their home improvement license number on all of their contracts, trucks and advertisements. Home improvement contracts cannot require payment of more then one third of the total contract price at the time of signing the contract. If a contractor is not licensed, it is illegal for them to do home improvements. Furthermore, consumers who use unlicensed contractors lose protection to challenge the contractor for a refund through MHIC’s Guaranty Fund.
BBB | Greater MD Tips
Prepare yourself by shopping around. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and call the contractors to ask about their experience in the field, references and fee schedule. Ask each prospective company for a detailed written estimate of the job that is to be performed, including the type and costs of materials and labor required, the method and procedures that will be used, and how long it will take. When comparing estimates, make sure you are being quoted on the same quality of materials. Don’t be pressured to sign on the dotted line at the time of estimate.
Check with your BBB for general advice on home improvement contractors and for a specific company’s report at www.bbb.org. Always verify licensing information and inquire about closed or open complaints against a contractor with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission at 410-230-6309 or www.dllr.state.md.us.