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Getting Work Done? How to Choose the Right Contractor

Pick a reputable contractor with these tips from Cranberry Police and the Better Business Bureau.

With the warm weather finally here, many people are considering having work done on their homes or getting their driveways sealed.

But how do you choose the right contractor?

Cranberry Police Sgt. Chuck Mascellino warned residents who might want to have their asphalt driveways patched or resealed to be careful about who they hire—especially if the contractor offers to do the job on the cheap.

Mascellino said to be leery of contractors who solicit customer by saying they have extra materials left over from a previous job and are able to do another driveway at a third of the price.

“Most of the companies may have some excess supply, but not enough to do another entire driveway,” Mascellino said.

While these companies may complete the work, it likely will not be to a high standard. The new asphalt may only last one or two seasons, Mascellino said.  

“You’re paying for what you get, and you’re not going to get the quality work,” he said.

Even if they don’t do a good job, once the paver completes the work, criminal charges typically cannot be filed against them. Instead, these cases often end up in civil court, Mascellino said.

“It may or may not be criminal. It could be civil. Everything depends on the individual case,” he said.

To avoid any complications, Mascellino recommends doing your research.

State law requires all contractors to register with the Attorney General's Office. Mascellino said resident may verify a contractor’s registration on the Attorney General’s website.

“If they aren’t on there, we recommend not using them,” he said.

Customers may also call the department’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-520-6680. 

Mascellino noted police are aware of out-of-state pavers who come into the area every year during warmer weather and perform low quality work. To steer clear of these contractors, he suggested hiring a local company with connections in the community.  

He added reputable contractors often don’t ask for work by going door-to-door in a neighborhood.

“Reliable contractors are not going to solicit work, especially if they’re a local company,” he said. “It’s mostly word of mouth.”

The Better Business Bureau also offers a number of tips on avoiding construction scams and choosing the right contractor

Signs of a Possible Scam

These indicators, while not necessarily deceptive in nature, point to potential problems and are red flags warning you to exercise caution.

Does the contractor:

• Solicit door-to-door?
• Just happen to have materials left over from a previous job?
• Only accept cash payments?
• Ask you to get the required building permits?
• Not list a business number in the local telephone directory?
• Tell you your job will be a “demonstration?”
• Pressure you for an immediate decision?
• Offer an exceptionally long guarantee?
• Ask you to pay for the entire job up front?
• Suggest that you borrow money from a lender he or she knows?

Tips for choosing and working with a contractor

• Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for referrals.
• Contact local trade organizations, such as the Home Builders Association to find contractors in your area.
• Ask the contractor for references of customers who had projects similar to yours. Contact each reference and inspect the work if possible.
• Get written estimates from several companies for identical project specifications.
• Always insist on a contract for work to be performed, with all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.
• Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract.
• Consider setting payment terms in conjunction with completed stages of the job.
• When the job is done, make sure it matches the terms of the contract.
• Do not pay for any work that is incomplete.

Do you have tips for avoiding construction scams? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Kathy F May 09, 2013 at 04:14 PM
I can recommend Shawn @ Rightly Done Repairs 724.252.6885. Honest, hard working, knowledgeable, and professional services. He replaced my garage door and opener. Gave me a written estimate prior to any work, registered and insured in PA. He even completed the job quicker than I thought! I will definitely call him again for my next project---finishing up the kitchen remodel my husband started but couldn't quite find the time to complete.
Wise1 May 10, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Rich Malatak..great work...but takes forever...very lazy

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