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4 Questions to ask BEFORE hiring a Contractor
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Your home is a valuable asset, so make sure to care for it and upgrade it with care. This is why hiring trusted Contractors are a must! Here is an example of a horror story of what happens if you don't. Here are the four things you must ask a contractor to make sure they are trustworthy and legitimate.
 
1. Ask for their PA Home Improvement Contractor Registration Number which by law, must be printed on their advertising materials, including on any vehicle lettering and business cards, estimates, and contacts, along with any ads they post in the various FB Groups and Message Boards. Verify their registration is current by visiting http://hicsearch.attorneygeneral.gov/ - check the details for any fraud concerns, previous business entities, etc. COPE Construction and Renovation's registration number is PA88078.   In Northern Delaware, specifically New Castle County, you can visit http://www3.nccde.org/contractorlicense/search/default.aspx and run a Contractor License Search for the name "COPE BUILT" where you'll find we are DE LC10490.
 
2. Ask them to provide you with a certificate of insurance showing their general liability insurance as well as any workers compensation they may carry, and call the agent to make sure it is valid. Compare the coverages being carried by the various contractors you may be getting quotes from. Higher coverage amounts mean more protection for you and your home. If you are not sure what you are looking at, take the Certificate of Insurance to the provider you use for your home and auto coverage. They will be able to explain it to you. Or ask us for one of ours. Be sure your contractor has adequate coverage for the scope of work they are providing for you. Hiring an uninsured or underinsured contractor, just because he was cheaper, could cost you (and your homeowners insurance policy) an awful lot of money. Not only are they breaking Pennsylvania law, but they are also putting their customers at risk and they could be subject to a $25,000 fine for doing so. This is a critical step so many homeowners overlook. If your contract goes out of business or can't be found, and you don't have their insurance information, you could have absolutely ZERO recourse if there are workmanship issues down the road. But if you have a COI, at least you can contact the insurance company. If the policy and coverage were "just started" the day you asked for the Certificate, call the agent again at the END of the job, BEFORE you pay the contract, and make sure it is still in effect. It's not uncommon for scam artists to start a policy, get a COI, and then cancel the policy before payment is due. (We are SHOCKED how few customers ask us for proof of insurance. Its scary, knowing how many scammers are out there.)
 
3. Ask to see a complete home improvement agreement that complies with the legal requirements of the PA Consumer Protection Act 132. There are very specific requirements. If a contractor asks for 50% upfront, they are likely in violation of the law, unless bona fide special order materials are involved. PA law limits deposits to 1/3 plus bona fide special order materials.
 
4. Ask for References, and to see online verifiable Reviews, and Recommendations... 
 
If your contractor can't provide these four things, I suggest you keep shopping. Price is not the only factor to consider. Customer service, communication, quality workmanship, timeliness, cleanliness, as well as respect for your home and family are all incredibly important as well.
 
If anything seems fishy, consider searching court records for civil judgment or criminal convictions. Here's a link to the PA Court page where you can look up court matters on both organizations and individuals. Just fill in the name, and choose the case status and click search. Then pick a different status and search again. There are only 4 of them to choose from... it won't take long.
and you'll also want to check https://epin.chesco.org/EPIN/
(free at a library)
-- In Delaware, use the CourtConnect website.
 
If we can answer any questions about the above topics, feel free to call our team at 484-748-0008 option 2, ext. 2 or message us through Facebook on our Business Fan Page. We look forward to serving you!