Better Business Bureau: Repair, Restore, Renovate: BBB offers advice for hiring a trustworthy contractor

As cold weather passes, you may start to evaluate home improvements or repairs before the summer heat sets in. Your Better Business Bureau is here to offer advice for finding a trustworthy contractor.

The bureau receives hundreds of complaints every year concerning subpar work performed by contractors. Last year, home builders, roofing contractors, construction and remodeling services, plumbers and general contractors made the top 10 list of the most inquired about industries with your bureau.

Finding a trustworthy contractor

Use BBB.org to find trustworthy businesses. Start your search with the Better Business Bureau's Accredited Business Directory to find accredited contractors in your area. If you are referred to a business through friends, family or an advertisement, verify the business is in good standing at BBB.org before contacting them.

Compare costs. Get at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. The bureau's Request-a-Quote service is free to use and will allow accredited businesses to send you quotes via email. Understand variations in price may be associated with higher quality of materials.

Check licensing and insurance. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation requires a license for plumbers, HVAC technicians and electricians. Find out if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents.

Beware of high upfront fees. Contractors may require a down payment before work begins, but it should not be a significant portion of the total cost. Instead, make payments that align with the progress of the work completed. Make sure you are satisfied with the work before making a final payment.

Review your contract thoroughly. Make sure it includes all the materials needed to complete the job, an itemized list of all costs involved, any subcontracted labor and a warranty for all work performed.

Request-a-Quote

Whether you're remodeling your home or planning a move, you want the peace of mind knowing the job will be done right. With thousands of local businesses to choose from, where do you start?

Save yourself some valuable time by using the Request-a-Quote feature at BBB.org. All you have to do is describe the job you need done, and you'll instantly be connected with the bureau's accredited businesses, who will send you estimates for their work.

You should solicit at least two or three bids from different companies and make sure you understand the reasons for any variations in the quoted price.

There you will learn how long a company has been in business and its complaint history.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at info@corpuschristi.bbb.org.