Better Business Bureau Offers Spring Cleaning Tips For Seniors

The grass is green and the trees have leaves-finally. A cool, gray and wet start to our spring here in Western New York. Spring makes people want to get outdoors and tackle some clean up and sprucing up in their yards and around the house. It can be hard to find someone to hire to help. The Better Business Bureau has recommendations for us in their May 11, 2018 article, BB Tip: Hiring a Contractor. The article has several points that are worth quoting.

Consider these tips when hiring anybody to work in your home:

¯ Research their track record. You can search for a contractor’s Business Profile at bbb.org to see if they are an Accredited Business, get free information on their history of complaints, and read verified Customer Reviews. Also ask for local references and speak with those customers about their experience with the vendor and the quality of work. If possible, inspect the contractor’s work yourself. Ask if the contractor is a member of a professional association that has standards or a code of ethics.

¯ Ask for multiple quotes. You should always shop around and get at least three quotes from different businesses. Make sure all bids consider the same set of criteria. Remember that the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid; if one bid is significantly lower than the others are, the contractor may be cutting corners or may not understand your work requirements.

¯ Get it in writing. Always get estimates in writing and never let any work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready and make sure you read and understand everything before signing. The contract should include contact information, start and complete dates, a detailed description of the exact work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information. Specify who is to obtain necessary building permits and who is responsible for clean-up. Make sure all verbal promises are included in the contract. Ask how much work will be subcontracted and ask for information on the subcontractors. Ask questions if you do not understand any part of the contract. Never sign an incomplete or partially blank contract.

¯ Verify license and insurance. Always be sure that the company you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region. In the United States, you can get to your state’s licensing agency to learn more at www.nascla.org. In Canada, requirements differ from province to province, so make sure to search for information specific to yours. Your local BBB can help. Once you have your contractor’s insurance information, call the carrier to confirm appropriate coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of accidents.

¯ Confirm building permits. Your contractor must have the correct permits before starting your project. They will usually obtain the permits, but you will probably pay for them. That should be detailed in your contract.

¯ Inquire about a lien waiver. A lien waiver, in the United States, is a statement from your contractor that says all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work…

¯ Think about future service issues. Make sure you are aware of your warranty coverage and how to deal with service issues.

¯ Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or that you use a credit card.

¯ Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed and your final payment made.

¯ Keep your contract. Hold on to your contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the work is complete”.

Be careful and be wise when you hire on someone. Remember to ask trusted friends and neighbors for people they may use for cleaning or yard work. Be careful about people coming to your door or calling you on the phone offering services for cash. Consider hiring a local nursery company to complete yard work for you. You can contact NY Connects to get information about service organizations in your area that may be able to assist you. People can get information and assistance with referrals to many community agencies and programs designed to help people remain at home and offer support in their communities. We encourage people of all ages, caregivers, family or individuals looking to plan to call us. NY Connects service can help you! This service is confidential and free. NY Connects can assist you even further by making referrals directly to several programs even while you are on the phone line saving you time and additional phone calls.

You can access Chautauqua County New York Connects in many ways to fit your needs. E-mail: ccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us, Phone: Mayville 753-4582, Dunkirk 363-4582 or Jamestown 661-7582. Fax is 753-4477. You can even come to our main office location at 7 North Erie St, Mayville. NY Connects is brought to you by a partnership with Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County department of Health and Human Services.

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