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Thursday, September 23, 2021
Protect Yourself When Hiring Contractors
Are you hiring a contractor for storm repairs, remodeling your home or putting in a pool? If so, here are a few tips you may want to consider when selecting a contractor to ensure you financially protect yourself and make sure that the work completed meets all required building code standards.
Tips on Contractor Selection
Do background research on the contractor you are interested in hiring. Ask the contractor for a list of work previously performed that is like your project. Ask for references and check them. Verify the contractor’s place of business by researching on the web. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaint records on your contractor.
Make sure you get a written and signed scope of work with price included. Examine the scope of work covered, warranties and exclusions.
Never pay for a project in advance. Be wary of any contractor requesting total payment upfront before any work starts. A small retainer fee or payment for materials may be appropriate.
It is recommended that you not pay in cash, and generally, your check should be written to a company and not an individual. Paying with a credit card may provide some recourse should the job not be completed or meet code requirements. Also, make sure your contractor is adequately insured. If the work requires a City permit, do not pay the contractor in full until the City has inspected the work and given approval.
Be wary of a contractor who advises that the City does not require permits or inspections. While this may be true in some cases, most plumbing, electrical, mechanical, irrigation, and remodel work require a City permit. A permit ensures your contractor is registered with the City, has the necessary license(s) to perform the job and the City will conduct an inspection of the work once completed.
Be especially wary of contractors suggesting that the property owner obtain the necessary permits for their work. The property owner then becomes responsible for the work.
Verify that the contractor is licensed by asking them to produce credentials. The State of Texas requires that electricians, plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors and irrigation contractors be licensed. They must carry the license on their person and their vehicles must have the state license number posted on the vehicle.
Before the project begins, insist on seeing the City’s permit and check the City website’s online permit software for permits and inspections. During construction, monitor your contactor’s inspection records.
Please be aware the City is currently waiving permit fees for repair work associated with the February 2021 winter storm event. The City also allows contractors to perform emergency repairs before obtaining a City permit to expedite the work. However, the contractor should submit a permit application immediately following completion of the work and schedule a final inspection with the City.