Brecksville's Handy Homeowner: Use Caution When Hiring Home Improvement Contractors

There are many resources for finding and checking out potential contractors.

I once hired a company to paint our house. The salesman who initially came out was very professional and seemed knowledgeable and capable. I generally try to be open minded when I meet people, but the following week when the “painters” rolled up my street in a 1979 Ford Pinto that was held together with duct tape, and emerged from it in their pajamas and slippers, a red flag went up.

Hiring someone to do work on my house is always a stressful event. It’s hard to find someone reputable, let alone someone who will even show up to provide a quote or to do the work. Unless there’s gushing water involved, I usually just put off the repair.

I came across some information on the ’s website on hiring a contractor.  

They advise that homeowners should be aware that home improvement contractors are not tested, licensed or registered in our state, but trade contracts like electricians and plumbers are. However, all contractors to be registered with the city of Brecksville prior to doing any work, and they have a list of registered contractors on their website.

To find a good contractor, that list might be a good place to start. You could also check out the advertisements for contractors in local publications like the Brecksville Magazine or look at advertisements for skilled labor on websites like the Cleveland Craigslist. You can also pay for a membership to an organization like Angie’s List, and get detailed information about businesses. But no matter where you find a contractor, you should do your homework before hiring them.

The website for the Cleveland branch of the Better Business Bureau has a resource for checking out contractors. You can see if complaints have been filed against specific contractors. Keep in mind that no record of complaints may just mean that a particular problem has not yet been reported, or that the contractor uses more than one business name.

The Federal Trade Commission’s website has a section on consumer protection and includes information on hiring home improvement contractors. They offer valuable information and questions that you should ask a potential contractor. Some of them are:

  • How many years have you been in business? 
  • Have you done jobs like mine before?
  • Is a permit required for my project?
  • Will you provide a list of references? 
  • Are you insured?

Caution is key when it comes to hiring a contractor, and it’s wise to do your homework, ask as many questions as you can, and check out their credentials. Don’t rush to hire someone, and if they show up in their pajamas to do the work, it might be a sign that you didn’t ask enough questions.


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