Skip to content Accessibility info

Washington County Insurance Agency Blog

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Insurance

How to Choose the Right Contractor for Home Improvement Projects and Avoid Liability Claims

Painting Materials Beside a Ladder
Painting Materials Beside a Ladder by Blue Bird

If you’re planning a home improvement project, you probably have many contractors available to choose from. How do you pick the right one that will get the job done safely and without liability issues? Follow these tips.

Get Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

One of the best ways you can find a contractor is to ask friends and neighbors who have done remodels or additions you like. Ask about things like:

  • Was the contractor punctual and reliable?
  • Did the project come in on or under budget?
  • Would they hire the contractor again?

Read Online Reviews

Online reviews are another great resource today for finding contractors. Read reviews carefully, and look at star ratings. One or two disgruntled customers out of hundreds is probably par for the course, but avoid contractors who have lots of bad reviews. Look for critiques such as:

  • The contractor started the project, but left in the middle to work on another job, extending the completion date beyond the initial agreement.
  • The job was not completed satisfactorily.
  • The project went considerably over budget.
  • The workers arrived late, made a mess in the home, or were rude to clients.
  • There were safety issues during the project or after its completion (electrical dangers, chemicals or tools left exposed, tripping hazards, etc.).

Hire Experienced Contractors

In general, you want to hire contractors who are more experienced, as they tend to be able to work faster and deal with any unforeseen problems that arise. That also means you want contractors who have done projects similar to yours in the past. If you have a historic home, for example, it may be better to hire someone who has only been in business for a few years, but specializes in historic renovations, rather than going with a 20-year-old firm that has only worked on contemporary homes.

Make Sure Your Contractor Is Licensed and Insured

Your contractor should be licensed as required by law in your region or state. They should also be insured, especially for liabilities. This protects you if someone in your home is hurt while the project is in progress or if there is a safety issue after the job is done. A reputable contractor will happily provide proof of insurance on request.

The contractor’s insurance should cover injuries or damages for which they’re responsible and pay to fix any remaining problems. That way you don’t have to file an insurance claim with your own home insurance. Most states require contracting businesses with multiple employees to have workers' compensation insurance as well, which is intended to help pay for the care of any contractors injured while on the job.

Finally, you can ask your contractor to take out a bond if engaging in a major renovation for you, like an addition, building a second story, or gutting and rebuilding an old property. This can pay you if they do not reasonably adhere to the timeline in your contract, which can have financial repercussions for you. Bonds usually also hold a contractor to certain standards of execution to avoid sloppy work that creates headaches for you years later.

Don’t forget that your homeowner insurance policy should be updated when doing home improvement projects to cover the added value you’ve given the property. Call Washington County Insurance Agency at 979-251-7771 to speak with an independent agent about insurance protection for your home in case of storms, fire, vandalism, or theft. Ready to start a policy now? Contact us or request a homeowner insurance quote to tell us how we can help you.