Choose a Contractor (FAQ)

Choosing a contractor is an important process and here are a few tips on spotting a crooked contractor.

As we’ve all seen in recent news reports, natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina attract predators en masse. Of particular concern are phony contractors, who knock on the doors of distraught homeowners and offer to repair damaged roofs or remove fallen trees. They take a hefty deposit, but never return to do the work. Of course, these fraudsters don’t just come around after bad weather. The following tips from This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and the National Association of Home Builders will help you spot a crook under any conditions.

Beware of a contractor who:
Refuses to give you a copy of his license and certificate of insurance, which should include liability and worker’s compensation.

Has popped up out of nowhere, literally. You can’t verify any of their references or that they even have a fixed business address.

Rubs you the wrong way. “Trust your instincts,” says Tom. “If something doesn’t feel right about the person, then it probably isn’t.”

Is so eager to get things started that technicalities get brushed away – but not the fee. He’ll say you don’t need to sign a contract and try to get you to pay for the project up front.

Asks you to write a check directly to him for porducts, such as cabinets and windows, instead of to the company supplying the items.

Offers a bargain in exchange for using your home as an example of his work or tempts you with a low price that’s only on the table if you sign that day.

Tries to get you to buy stuff you already have. Don’t get talked into paying to install a new HVAC system if you don’t like the one you have.

Asks you to pay for work that hasn’t been done yet or for materials that haven’t arrived. “If you don’t see it, don’t pay for it,” says Tom.

Uses scare tactics to get you to sign off on extras. Your walls won’t crumble because you didn’t get that ultra-expensive siding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question #1 – When should I get my chimney cleaned?
Once a year before you start using it.

Question #2 – What is tuckpointing?
When the damaged, cracked or missing mortar is ground out approximately 1/2 to 1 inch deep and filled in with new mortar and then tooled.

Question #3 – Can my roof be repaired vs replacement?
Yes, if a problem is caught in time before it becomes major.

Question #4 – What are some signs I need a new roof?
Leaks in multiple areas, curled or missing shingles, moss growing, dark discolored areas or stains in areas on the roof.

Question #5 – How long will my roof job or any other project take?
Most jobs are completed in one to two days.

Question #6 – What is flashing? What is its purpose?
Flashing is around chimneys, walls and any penetrations on your roof. It is a form of protection to prevent leaks where roof tie into these areas.

Questions #7 – When should my gutter be replaced?
When they start to leak, drip or hanging off the house. This may cause stains on areas below drips or slippery/icy areas in cold weather. Also may start to cause wood behind the gutters to rot.

Question #8 – When should my gutters be cleaned?
Once in the spring after helicopters and buds have fallen from trees and once again in the fall after the leaves have fallen.

Question #9 – How late in the year can I have work done on my home?
Ideally the best time is from March to December but we work year round.

Question #10 – How do your payment methods work?
We normally get a deposit and balance on completion. We take checks, money orders, cash, and all major credit cards.