By Loren Suddes

Home renovations have been on the rise since the onset of COVID-19. People began doing more DIY projects due to more time on their hands, as well as thinking about how to make their home more comfortable since they were spending more time in it. While many are doing small projects on their own, others are doing bigger improvements that require a contractor.

Contractors have found themselves much busier, booking months in advance and pricing has skyrocketed due to limited supply and high demand. That said, it’s important to make sure you are working with the right contractor to ensure the work is done correctly, they are adhering to city codes, and they will stand behind their work should you encounter problems.

What to Consider When Hiring a Contractor

Hire Licensed Contractors

Licensed contractors have taken the time to obtain licensing as well as appropriate permits, and they are familiar with legal processes and trained to meet all city requirements. They will adhere to necessary inspections for both quality and safety, and most licensed contractors also offer liability insurance, which protects the homeowner in the event there is personal and bodily injury or property damage. Lastly, licensed contractors are more apt to take responsibility for mistakes or problems, because if a claim is filed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, they risk losing their license.

Verify Insurance and Bonding

It’s important for a contractor to have insurance. You can verify this by asking them for a copy of their Certificate of Insurance (COI) or you can contact the insurance company directly to verify coverage. If they don’t have insurance, you may be liable for any accidents or damage that may occur. A bond contract sets forth legal and ethical standards for a contractor. If the client feels that those standards are not met, they can file a claim against the bond if the contractor is not willing to stand by their work.

Get Everything in Writing

Secure a written contract before work begins. Make sure all details are included and it’s clear and precise. The contract should include details of the work to be completed by the contractor, what the contractor will provide and what you are responsible for, price, timing, responsibilities (responsibility of building permits, HOA notifications and approvals, trash and debris removal, etc.), warranties provided, and signatures by both parties. Ask for written confirmation that all applicable permits have been obtained. Any changes to the contract should be acknowledged by all parties in writing.

Know the Cancellation Policy

The contract should include a termination clause. Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty. Most contracts include a clause that enables either party to cancel or end a contract. If you do decide to cancel the signed contract, it’s a good idea to send a notice of cancellation via registered mail so you have proof of cancellation. At the very least make sure it’s in writing.

As you plan your next renovation project, remember that choosing the right contractor is the most important step in the process. With the above tips you’ll feel confident about the contractor you choose, and you’ll be able to look forward to the finished product with excitement.

Loren Suddes is a Senior Member and Equity Partner at The Cavanagh Law Firm. Her practice focuses on litigation of matters involving personal injury, premises and product liability, construction defects, wrongful death claims, and more.