Hiring the Right Person for Remodeling

Hi. It’s Matt from One Week Bath with our continued series of short videos on bathroom design, product selection, and remodeling. Today we’re going to talk about a very important thing which is, how do you hire the right person for your remodeling project? The right team? The right company? Many people hire those that aren’t licensed and don’t have insurances, so today we’re going to talk about all of it.

Find Someone With Experience

So, let’s start with experience. The first thing you want to do is find someone who actually has experience building the type of project that you are building. You certainly wouldn’t go to a knee doctor for brain surgery and you certainly wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon for knee surgery. So, experience is number one. Find somebody who actually has a track record building your type of project on a consistent basis cause, let’s face it, “practice makes perfect.”

Hire A Licensed Contractor

The second thing that people always wonder is, “Why do I want to hire a licensed person?” You know, “My friend has this guy and he’s not licensed but he does a really nice job.” The point of a license is that they have something to lose. What if they do something that is illegal, or wrong, or bad business practices, there’s a governing body that looks over that and holds them accountable. If they don’t have a license, they don’t really have anything to lose. They certainly could get fined and other things, but they don’t really have much to lose. Plus, they haven’t gone through the trouble or commitment of actually taking the exams and classes to get the license. I would want somebody who’s highly committed to what they’re doing. I mean, you wouldn’t probably hire an unlicensed doctor to practice on you either or an unlicensed insurance agent or an unlicensed realtor. Why would you take the risk to hire an unlicensed contractor? Which, an unlicensed contractor is actually an oxymoron – they wouldn’t be a contractor. You want to make sure the person is licensed properly in the state that you’re working in.

Get The Proper Insurance

The third thing is insurance. This is kind of a tricky thing since there are a lot of contractors out there. There are two types of insurance that we want to look at. One is workman’s compensation, which covers workers that would be working in your home on your project if they were to get injured. And the second is liability insurance, which would cover damage to your home, damage to your neighbor’s home, damage to your neighbor’s property, vehicle, anything outside of a work injury. So, let’s start with worker’s comp. There are a lot of, I hasten to use the word, contractor, but there are contractors out there and non-contractors that do not have workman’s comp. insurance. They pay their guys cash. If God forbid, anything were to happen, they would come back against you, the homeowner, for the liability. There are contractors that claim that they are exempt from workman’s comp. insurance. If you go on the license board, the California license board, it will say “exempt.” That means that they are claiming that they have zero employees. What that means is that they’re either using 100% subcontract labor, which means they’re outsourcing that. And then you want to make sure that those folks have their proper insurances because it all goes uphill to you. Or, they’re not really telling the truth and they have workers but they’re not claiming them and they’re paying them cash or under the table or something so that they don’t have to pay the work comp. insurance. But, the license board requires them to have either a work comp. policy or to claim that they are exempt from workman’s comp. So, be very careful about that.

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The second one, as I said, is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers damages. Could you imagine if you had a plumber working on your home that had workman’s compensation? So, if that person got injured, they would be covered. But, actually caught your home on fire with a torch as they were working on the water lines and burned your house down. Or burned a portion of your house down and then said, “Sorry. I don’t have liability insurance.” Your home owner’s insurance most likely would deny you coverage because you hired a contractor that didn’t have liability insurance. So, you’re pretty much out of luck. There’s nothing you can do except go after that contractor for the liability, which chances are, if they’re not carrying liability insurance, they probably don’t have much to take. Otherwise, they would carry liability insurance to protect their assets. So, you want to be sure that the contractor carries liability insurance. The most common is a million dollars per occurrence, two million aggregate, which means they can have two million dollars’ worth of claims a year.

Crews. This is another part of it. “Hey, I’ve got this great guy. He’s gonna do my project and he has one helper, or whatever.” What happens if that one person gets injured? Your project completely stops. What if that one person, this great guy that’s remodeling your kitchen, decides he wants to go on vacation for two weeks? Or a week? Or gets stuck in an airport somewhere for days?  Your project does not move forward. If you hire a legitimate company that actually has an infrastructure and crews, that project will run without the owner. That project will continue to run without the owner and if somebody on the crew is for some reason out, they can replace those people with new people. So, having those resources, having a real company will keep your project from completely coming to a standstill if for some reason your “guy” got hurt or decided to go on vacation.

The last piece to the puzzle is materials – specifically material purchasing and liability. Most contractors do not purchase materials. It’s very common. They have the owner go buy the vanity and the tile and the fixtures and whatnot. What that does is it puts a division between the labor and the materials and it also puts a division into the liability. Where the contractor can say “We didn’t buy that. It was defective.” It creates a gray area.

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I remember a long time ago when I was building a home, in my custom home building business and the customer went out and bought all of the plumbing fixtures for the home. This was 20 years ago. They wanted to buy all the fixtures and didn’t want to have me buy them, and we installed all the valves in the wall, tiled everything in the house and the fixtures started to make noise in the wall – very loud noise. We finally determined that they were defective fixtures, by doing some research.  And while the manufacturer said, “Look, we’ll replace the defective fixtures,” they weren’t going to pay to tear out all the tile and replace all the tile and replace the fixtures. They were just going to replace the fixture. I had situations in the past where the customer bought a dishwasher and we put it in the kitchen properly and the dishwasher was defective and it leaked and ruined hardwood floors and it was really on the customer to fight with the dishwasher company in that case. What they could have avoided was that liability laid on themselves by going to a contractor that would provide all the labor and materials because then ultimately all they had to do was make one call and say, “You know what? It’s on you. You bought the stuff.” And then it would get taken care of. So, you want to be careful about that division of liability by buying materials and then having somebody else install them.

So, look, when you’re ready to hire somebody, be sure to consider these important factors: experience, a license, proper insurances (both workman’s comp. and liability), that they have resources, crews, and that it’s not just one person doing the work. They should also be willing to provide the materials and take responsibility for those materials and anything that could happen with those materials.

So, that’s it! Check our videos on YouTube and on our website at www.oneweekbath.com and I’ll see you next time.

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