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Whether you’re in need of HVAC system installation, electrical work, a new roof on your  house, or you’re ready for a bathroom remodel, it’s extremely important that you check out  prospective contractors before you enter an agreement. You’ll want to verify that they have a  strong customer service track record and hold any required local and state licenses.

If you hire a contractor who doesn’t hold proper licensing to perform the contracted work, not  only do you risk that the workmanship could be inferior – or even dangerous – but you as  the homeowner may be held liable for completed work that doesn’t comply with building  codes or results in property damage.

Unfortunately, Better Business Bureau (BBB) usually finds several unlicensed contractors  who advertise work in our community. In some cases, they even make false claims of being  licensed, so it’s extremely important that you take the steps to confirm their licensing status.  If our organization confirms that a company is operating without a required local or state  license, we’ll report this as an alert on the company’s BBB profile. The lack of licensing also  impacts a company’s BBB rating, resulting in an F rating – the lowest issued by BBB.

Licensing requirements vary in Georgia, and there are some residential home improvement  services that are exempt from licensing requirements if the work falls below the $25,000  threshold, including roofing installation. You can learn more by visiting licensing-board-residential-and-general-contractors.

Here are some additional tips from your BBB as you search for trustworthy companies  to provide home related services:
Be proactive in identifying trustworthy companies. Consider asking family, friends, and  neighbors for recommendations of companies they’ve been satisfied with. BBB encourages  you to still check for BBB Business Profiles on the companies at to verify their  customer experience record, rating, and more. If you don’t already have companies in mind,  you can also use BBB’s site to find BBB Accredited Businesses who have been vetted and  have made a commitment to uphold BBB’s Standards of Trust in the areas of licensing, truth  in advertising, customer relations, and more.

Receive at least three quotes. BBB strongly recommends that homeowners looking to  contract services for any work receive at least three quotes from separate businesses before  settling on a final decision. Be sure that you are comparing equivalent products and services  among the quotes and keep in mind that the lowest bid for your project may not necessarily
be the best bid. If an offer is significantly lower than others, it could be a sign that the  contractor is not using the same level of quality for materials.

Don’t hesitate to ask the companies questions to be sure you fully understand what is and is  not included in the quote and be sure that everything is presented in writing. BBB also  recommends you ask the company to include proposed project start and end dates.

Never pay the total project cost upfront. Even if the contractor offers a significant discount  for paying the project’s total cost upfront, BBB always recommends staggering payments  throughout the length of the project. Staggering payments allows you as a homeowner to  inspect the work at specific milestones, ensuring that the work is completed to your  satisfaction before releasing the next payment installment.

Homeowners should avoid contractors practicing aggressive tactics or insisting on receiving  full payment before beginning the project, and most deposits should range between 10-30%  of the total project cost. Some contractors may require a more significant down payment due  to the price of materials or other communicated issues. Still, BBB recommends that  homeowners should avoid contractors that ask for more than half of the total project cost  upfront, unless a viable reason for a higher deposit is confirmed.

Review previous work. As you zero in on the right contractor for your project, look into their  previous work. This can offer insight into their experience and professionalism, and it might  even provide fresh inspiration for your project.

Some ideas on reviewing a company’s previous work include viewing photos or videos of a  company’s completed project on their BBB Profile, website, or social media channels. (Social  media is usually the best option to find recently completed work). Also, consider asking  prospective contractors to share recent project photos that share similarities with your needs.

Consider asking for references. If you don’t feel you’ve received enough information about  the company’s work to feel confident yet in hiring them, you may want to request a list of local  references you may contact.
As you check their references, consider the following questions:

  • How was the overall experience with the contractor?
  • How was the contractor’s  communication?
  • How is the quality of their work?
  • Did the contractor stick to the project’s  estimated budget and completion date?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • Would it be possible to inspect the contractor’s work yourself?

If you have questions or you need more information and related tips on home building and  improvement projects, please visit
Kelvin Collins is president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line  Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central  Georgia, East Georgia, and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through  the local BBB and the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB). The  Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance  and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a  specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222,  Web site: or E-mail: