Shopping for a service company can be complicated.  It’s easy to list the lowest price, but how do you shop for technical expertise, continuing education, quality workmanship, safety and trustworthiness?  Value, with respect to a service company is a bit more complicated to determine.

Service company checklist

Since service companies do not have corresponding product or model numbers to compare their products, here’s a list to help you compare apples to apples.

  • Obtain a detailed written proposal fully outlining the specifics of the work to be preformed, disclosure of all costs and applicable permits, and estimated completion date.
  • Inquire if the workmen are employees of the company or subcontractors.
  • Inquire if the workmen who will be in your home are trained and qualified.
  • Obtain proof of proper and current licensing.  Some trades people are required by local and state authorities to be licensed.
  • Ask for a written list of verifiable references—and actually make those calls!
  • Ask who does the cleanup and removes debris from the site.
  • Ask how long has the company been in business.
  • Obtain current certificates of insurance from the service company prior to starting any work.

Red flags—how to know when you’re in trouble

Avoid hiring a service company that:

  • Has no real physical address.  (Do you want to do business with a PO Box?)
  • Pressures you for a quick hiring decision
  • Requests that YOU obtain the required building permits
  • Accepts only cash payments
  • Solicits door-to-door
  • Quotes a final price without seeing the job
  • Offers only lifetime warranties (which are only as good as the life of the company)
  • Requires a large down payment to buy materials
  • Offers a discount for an on-the-spot hiring decision
  • Wants to use materials left over from another job to save you money
  • Has no business number in the local telephone directory, only a cell phone number
  • Suggests you borrow money for your project from a lender he recommends
  • Tells you your job will be a “demonstration”
  • Offers discounts for finding other customers
  • Requests complete payment upfront