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Know Your Contractor

Very Important Siding & Construction Tips by Dave Mason

Tip #1: Finding a Contractor that is Legal!

It is very important to find a contractor to work on your project that holds a current and legal license, and is insured and bonded.

When researching a prospective contractor, for your protection, check with the Better Business Bureau and/or the local Home Builders Associations to find out about the specific contractor. If the contractor you have in mind is not a member of either of these organizations, or has a bad rating with them, you may not want to waste your time getting a proposal from the contractor.

In order to save time and aggravation, ask each and every prospective contractor to mail or fax current copies of the items listed below, before they even come out to look at your project. If a prospective contractor cannot or will not take the time to provide you with all of their current information, it’s possible that the contractor is not legal.

  • City, State Business, State "Specialty or General Contractor" and/or Borough Licenses
  • Liability and Workman's Compensation Insurance Certificate
  • Bond

Many contractors will tell you that they are licensed, insured and bonded, but in reality they legally are not. Be sure to look at the dates on all of the documents provided by each contractor to ensure that the dates are current. If the dates on any of the documents are not current, you should not move forward with requesting a proposal from the contractor.

Many consumers over the years have found out the hard way, when things went wrong on their project, that the contractor they hired was not legally licensed, insured, or bonded and in far too many cases, the consumer has lost their hard earned money.

In Alaska, the only contractors that can legally install siding on your home or building, according to the laws of Alaska, are contractors who hold "Specialty Contractor" or a "General Contractor” license. Contractors with a "Handyman" license cannot legally install siding on a building. Fines of up to $10,000.00 can be imposed by the State of Alaska if an illegal contractor or person works on your home or building.

Tip #2: Picking a Quality Contractor

Most quality contractors will show up for appointments on time or they will call if they are running late for an appointment with you.

Quality contractors should provide current dated copies of all of their licenses, bonds & insurance. If a contractor does not or cannot provide copies of these documents, beware! Most quality contractors are members of the Better Business Bureau and the State & National Home Builders Associations.

If a contractor does not offer written references for you to call or drive by, beware!

Quality contractors are normally very knowledgeable and will go over the fine details of your project with you.

Quality contractors normally have a portfolio to share of past projects or offer a very knowledgeable and informative website with past customer photographs for you to view.

If a proposed contractor does not give you a detailed written proposal covering every aspect of your project and the materials he/she is offering, you should not consider the contractor. If a contractor only offers a verbal contract or something written on the back of a business card or scratch paper, beware!

If you decide to sign a contract with a specific contractor, ensure that the contract is not "Open Ended" as it should specifically state what is included for a set given price (unless you and the contractor have agreed on some issue that is unforeseen and a fixed price cannot be set for that specific item, i.e. rotted wood behind your gutters and so on).

Many quality contractors will provide a chart displaying many specific details that their company offers for most or all of their projects.

Never pay a contractor the full amount of the contract price up front or until the project is complete and you are happy with the completed work. Most quality and honest contractors will ask for 1/3 down with the signed contract, 1/3 when the material arrives and the project is started, and the last 1/3 when the project is substantially completed. Substantially completed means that the project is 98 to 99% completed and the workers may only have a few simple details to take care of – i.e. a light or mail box to install but the parts need to be ordered or picked up.

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