Finding the right contractor for your spring improvements

MASON CITY, IA – It’s home improvement season! But before you hire the first contractor that comes to your door, take some precautionary steps.

The job didn’t get done, or didn’t get done according to my specifications…

That’s just a few of the complaints the Iowa Attorney General’s Office hears in regards to poor contractor work. They see a spike in these types of complaints in the spring and during severe weather season,

“We have situations where hail has hit an area or flooding or tornado, obviously there’s a lot of damage and people need to fix their houses right away,” says Geoff Greenwood, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office.

You have to be careful who you hire to do the work. Greenwood says, the first place you want to go to for recommendations is family and friends.

If you come up short there, the Better Business Bureau website lists thousands of approved companies which you can search by the category of work you want done.

After you find someone you think will do a good job, dig a little deeper and compare a few different companies.

“It’s just a good idea if your not familiar with a certain contractor to go out and get some reference checks, you know ask that contractor for some references,” says Gary Schmit, President of Henkel Construction.

Next, get everything in writing from the start date to who’s doing the clean up.

Now that severe weather season is here, homeowners need to watch out for dishonest people who claim they can fix your hail damage right away.

“A contractor shows up at the door, knocks on the door and says hey I see you got damage here, I can fix it, write me a check or give me cash right now and I’ll take care of it,” says Greenwood.

Next thing you know, they take the money and run, so never pay everything up front.

“Pay 1/3 up front, 1/3 halfway through and 1/3 upon completion,” he says.

And before you write that final check, make sure to have the work inspected by a professional.

Overall though, Greenwood points out there are more honest contractors than dishonest.

“By in large, Iowans have good experiences with contractors,” he says.

A few more red flags would be if they showed up in an unmarked car with out of state plates, if they’re not in the phone book, or if they don’t have a physical address listed.

Here are a few websites to check out if you are searching for the right contractor for you:

http://www.bbb.org/iowa/

http://www.bbb.org/minnesota/

http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/consumer_advisories/home/index.html

 

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