It’s never been more important for homeowners to do their due diligence by running a background check on who they hire than in today’s economy. Many contractors are hanging on by a thread and homeowner’s can face great financial loss if they make a mistake. Recently, a roofer in West Palm Beach, FL was arrested for bouncing 200-300 checks per month. Many of these checks were to suppliers. As a result of the business practices of this roofer, over 30 homeowner’s now face foreclosure of their homes because they could not afford to pay the suppliers and subcontractors who went after the homeowner’s for payment after the roofer defaulted. This number doesn’t include homeowner’s who had the means to pay the suppliers and had to pay for their roof twice.
With just a few easy steps, you can protect yourself and not be another victim of a desperate contractor by running your own background check. Below are easy steps with web links that will enable you to protect yourself and make a smart choice.
It’s always a good idea to check out a company with The Better Business Bureau. The BBB is a good place to start, but unfortunately, you won’t always get the whole picture from these reports. The Better Business Bureau rates companies based on complaints received. There are contractors on the BBB site that have ‘A’ ratings, even though the owners of the company or the company itself has had lawsuits, foreclosures, criminal charges or has gone out of business in recent years.
Other resources for you to check are the Clerk of Courts site for your county and the county the contractor resides. Search the Clerk of Courts site in the company name as well as the owner’s and officer’s to look for pending and past legal action, including lawsuits, bankruptcy, and foreclosures. Trouble on the clerk of courts could be signs of trouble to come for you.
Follow the easy links below to protect yourself and get the information you need to make an informed decision.
Step 1: Check with the Better Business Bureau
You will be able to see a record of any complaints received by the BBB in the past 36 months. You should also note the names of the officers and/or owners to check them out in the links in step 2.
Step 2: Go to your local Clerk of Courts site
Sarasota County – Criminal Cases by Individuals Name
Sarasota County – Civil Case by Individual’s Name
Sarasota County – Civil Cases By Company Name
Manatee County – Clerk of Courts
Charlotte County – Clerk of Courts
Step 3: Call customer references
A mix of recent customers as well as customers from a few years ago is good. Make sure to ask for references for your type of job. If you have a tile roof, talk to a tile customer, likewise, if you have shingle or metal.
Step 4: Call credit references
Calling recent credit references will be the best source for recent trends in payment history and could alert you to trouble. Lawsuits may not have shown up in the Clerk of Courts, but poor payment history could be a warning sign.
What you need to ask:
- What credit terms does the contractor have with the suppler? Contractors with good credit have open accounts
- If Cash only, has the contractor had payment issues?
- How long has the supplier done business with the contractor? If it’s a new relationship, ask the contractor for more established accounts. Contractor’s who have trouble paying their bills often jump from supplier to supplier. Request credit references that they’ve done business with for several years – base it on the time the contractor has been in business. If the contractor has been in business for 25 years, but only gives you credit references for new accounts in the last few years, beware and ask more questions. Remember, you could get stuck paying for materials or labor even if you paid the contractor in full.
Don’t ever be afraid or embarrassed about asking a contractor to provide you with the information you need to run a background check and make a wise decision and to protect your home and your financial future.
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-474-2113