What You Need To Know Before You Hire A Contractor From a Facebook Group
One of the ways people find contractors and handymen is by asking for recommendations in a local Facebook group. Usually, Facebook recognizes what you’re looking for, so it will highlight your post as a recommendation request. It looks a little like this:
Facebook lives and breathes on user engagement. So they put your post in front of the people who are most likely to engage with it (i.e. people most likely to leave comments, likes, etc.)
And they do a really good job of engaging people. So you quickly get what you asked for. People will link to and post names of local businesses and names of individuals who you assume know what the hell they’re doing.
But then again, how can you be sure?
I’m not going to lie, as a general contractor and subcontractor, I’ve dropped the ball on a few projects.
The mistakes I made, though, taught me a lot about some of the things that homeowners can do to protect themselves, and their home and property from a shoddy contractor.
Ask Them For Proof of Insurance (Call & Verify It)
There are a lot of people who are hired off of Facebook groups for home improvement projects. I imagine that the vast majority of those hired are not asked to provide proof of general liability insurance. And a lot of the people a part of that majority don’t carry insurance.
That’s a serious problem because even the most safety-conscious construction company can have something major go wrong with a project. It doesn’t happen often. But it happens enough to ask them to prove that they’re insured.
Once you get their certificate of insurance, you will need to call the company to confirm that their policy hasn’t lapsed. It’s easy for someone to forget (or not be able) to pay their liability insurance.
Check Them Out Online
Check the social media profiles of the person, or the owner and the company you’re thinking about hiring. Some questions you can ask are:
- Does the person or owner list their occupation, job title, or company on any of their profiles?
- Do they share pictures of past work similar to the type of work you want them to do for you?
- Just as important, do you share similar values and beliefs? Do you think you will “click” with them?
Google them. Look to see if they have any online reviews posted. Include popular review sites like Houzz, Angie’s List, and Yelp in your search terms. If you can’t find proof of any of their work online, that could be (probably is) a red flag.
But even a company’s 1-star reviews shouldn’t be the only thing holding you back from hiring a particular contractor. They are notoriously under-moderated, fake, and are all too often used maliciously by competitors.
The best approach is to use discernment. Find out things like:
- How long ago was the review posted?
- Be careful, because Google allows reviewers to update their reviews long after they’re written. And the “posted” date featured on the review resets. So, someone could make their review look like it was posted recently by just updating it on a regular basis.
- Did the company reply to any of the reviews?
- What tone of voice do each of the 1-star reviews use and do any sound like the reviewer has an ax to grind?
Ask Them About Their Warranty
Before you give them your address and have them come over to give you an estimate, ask if their work carries any kind of warranty and how long they guarantee their work. Most legitimate contractors guarantee their work for 12 months.
Ask To Talk To Their Most Recent Client
There’s a saying, “a contractor is only as good as his last job.” Talking to a company’s most recent client gives you a chance to ask questions about the contractor or company’s most recent project. Some things to find out:
- Was there any surprises?
- Did they stay within the price they originally quoted you?
- Did the project take longer or did it end sooner than what they originally told you?
Ask Them What Types of Payments They Take
For a lot of contractors, cash is king. They won’t accept anything else. So you can’t just assume that you can pay them with a credit card or check.
Now, the fact remains that person to person transactions are hard to trace. So when someone tells you they only take cash, there’s always a possibility that something fishy might be going on. When a construction company or contractor accepts forms of payment other than cash, it shows that they’re in it for the long haul and that they don’t have much to hide.