We at Magnolia Home Inspection Services understand all too well the trials and tribulations of putting your home and life back together after a flood. In this blog, we will help protect you on your road to recovery. As always, if you have any further questions feel free to call. We are here to help answer any questions you may have.
In this blog, we will explore two topics:
- Choosing The Right Contractor
- Independent Home Inspections
Choosing The Right Contractor
As in every business, there will be the good, the great, and those who shouldn’t even be in the business. The trick is telling them apart. The internet is not much help, even with on-line referrals and referral services. Your best source are friends you know that have had similar repairs done before. A positive referral from them could save you a ton of grief and headache.
If this doesn’t work, interview several repair companies to ensure that you’re getting not only a good deal in price, but also a company whose quality of work you can trust. It will give you a chance to see which company is a good fit for your family’s needs. It’s not a good idea to sign a contract with the first company you come across.
Be careful. There are lots of friendly, charismatic salesman who are shysters. Look at the product and service they offer instead of their personality and promises.
Here is a check list of things to look for when selecting a contractor.
- How long they have been in business and are they local. Avoid companies who are new startups or do not have their main office in the Houston area. Out of town contractors love to come and exploit home owners.
- Ask for the following documentation and confirm it.
- State and city license to do work
- Liability insurance (subcontractor insurance)
- Customer agreement and contract
- Check their website. If they are a valid contractor they will have a website. The website should show which trade organizations they are affiliated with. If it doesn’t ask and verify.
- Have complaints been filed with the Better Business Bureau?
- Are they an active member of the Greater Houston Builders Association?
- Check on-line reviews, but remember; anyone can write a review, even the contractor.
- Ask if they pull building permits. This is very important a company that does not follow all the rules and regulations will most likely cut corners.
- Ask for a written estimate.
- How long their work will be under warranty.
- Look for a start and completion date in the contract
Compare estimates side by side and make sure nothing is being left out.
Many contractors want a deposit, usually half now and half upon completion. After working several years in the construction industry, we have seen too many contractors take the money and never show up to do the work. Any company that is financially stable should have no problem setting up the first payment at a midway point. A company that does not take payment until after work is completed is ideal. This shows that the company is confident in their work and that they are a financially secure company.
Most important trust your gut if something does not fell right most likely it is not.
Independent Home Inspections
If you live in the city limits and proper permits have been pulled, city inspectors will come out at different points during the repairs to inspect the quality of work. These inspectors do not work for you; however, their job is to ensure the work is being done to proper code. Just like contractors, there are good inspectors, great inspectors, and inspectors that should not even be in the business. You don’t get to choose who you get.
One of the problems using city inspectors is the inspector to permit ratio. There are many more work permits, especially after a disaster, than there are city or county building inspectors. Their inspection usually lasts less than 10 minutes.
Drive by inspections are inspections when the inspectors stops, talks to the site foreman, and leaves. This shouldn’t happen, but it happens all the time.
If you live in a rural area, permits may be pulled, but the construction work may not even be inspected by a county inspector.
Inspections are important because a contractor doing the work is only as good as the subcontractors they employ. Many times, they pick any one who is available. Good subcontractors may have several weeks before they can start a new job. Contractors are looking for a subcontractor who can start now and often sacrifice quality for speed. Contractors want to finish quickly and move on to the next job.
We recommend that you hire a home inspection company if there are extensive repairs to be done. The home inspection company works for you. Their inspectors are professionally trained to look for problems that may be hidden to the untrained eye. Home inspectors will often find things that a city inspector may have missed.
Remember to negotiate the inspection fees into the contract for repairs. Some home inspection companies offer discounts.
Once again our hearts go out to the community in this time of need and we wish you all a speedy recovery.
Magnolia Home Inspection Services here to help assist you in any way.