Hiring A Contractor: Avoid Getting Burned

by Categorized: Home Improvement Contractor Issues, Scams Date:

Don’t every get so desperate that you’ll hire a storm-chaser — contractors, often unlicensed and from out of state — for storm cleanup or repairs.
Here are the basics from the state Department of Consumer Protection:

>> Don’t hire contractors who go door-to-door, who call, or who post notices on bulletin boards or online before checking them out thoroughly.

>> Do verify the registration, insurance, and if appropriate, the professional license of any worker before agreeing to let them work on your property.

>> All home improvement contractors — including persons who install and repair gutters, roofs, fences, siding, insulation, windows, masonry and underground fuel storage tanks — must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, plumbers, heating and ventilation workers, sheet metal workers, electricians and many other professionals require a current Connecticut professional license in order to practice their craft.

>> Contracts are required for most jobs over $200, and no matter how urgent the situation, consumers are advised to get a detailed contract and check all the terms and conditions, materials, start date, end date and costs, and if necessary, insist that any changes be written in. Both the consumer and contractor must sign and date the contract, and the consumer should get a completed copy for safekeeping.

By law, contractors are required to print their Connecticut license number on their contracts, business cards, on their vehicles, and in all advertising. A consumer can verify a contractor’s registration at www.ct.gov/dcp by selecting “Verify a License” in the “Online Services” section.

Contractors should carry their own liability insurance and must be able to produce an insurance certificate as proof. The certificate should carry the name of the insurance company and the homeowner is urged to call the insurance agency on the certificate to confirm that coverage. To verify if an insurance agent or agency is licensed in Connecticut, please visit the Connecticut Insurance Department web page at http://www.cidverifylicense.ct.gov/CLIC/VerifyLicense.aspx.

Consumers who have home improvement questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.frauds@ct.gov or at 1-800-842-2649.

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