Contractor Reference Check
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Checking References is Time Consuming... But CRITICAL

Hire Smart Consumer Services to do it for you--FAST. Most contractors agree to deduct the cost of our Contractor Reference Check from your project's cost.

When Does Trouble Start With Contractors? Before you hire them! Failing to check your potential contractor's references prior to signing a contract is a short cut to disaster. It's the #1 Most Common Mistake homeowners make when planning home improvements.

Always Check References! This doesn't mean merely calling a few names from the list of former customers the company has given to you... but finding out:

  1. whether they're on time or behind in payments to their suppliers

  2. whether their licenses, bonding and various forms of insurance, including job-site liability and worker's compensation are in order

  3. whether the Better Business Bureau has received complaints from their former customers

  4. whether disciplinary or legal action has been taken by a governing or licensing body

  5. whether criminal charges have ever been filed against them

Time Consuming But Reassuring. Methodically checking through a firm's references is definitely time consuming. Is it WORTH it? Absolutely, to you AND the contractor. Ideally, you'll be reassured that the company you're hiring is solvent, healthy and well respected. You'll cope with your home improvement project-- which is almost always life-disrupting, messy, emotional & drawn-out-- a little better knowing you're in trustworthy hands.

Good for Your Relationships. The contractor will like it, too, because he or she will know you've bothered to find out just how good their company really IS. It will improve your ability to communicate with each other during the inevitable stresses of the project. If questions crop up mid-job (and they usually do) you'll be more rational and calm while getting the confusion sorted out. When you're working with someone you know to be an honest businessperson, you're less likely to jump to nervous or unfairly negative conclusions at the first sign of a problem.

Good for Avoiding Bad Ones. What would be even better, oddly enough, than finding out that the company you're hiring IS well-qualified, is if the Reference Check turns up a pattern of red flags that make you decide to NOT hire the firm. In that case--the Reference Check protects you from being ripped-off or losing thousands of hard-earned dollars to a dangerously unstable company or a possibly dishonest contractor.

Excuses, Excuses. So why is it, in spite of so many horror stories about bad experiences with contractors, that so few homeowners check a contractor's references before hiring? Two answers are common:

Not enough time.... "Life's too hectic." OR,

Denial... "Since they gave a us a list of customer references, it must mean they're O.K., right?"

Too Busy? Take the Smart Approach. If you have time to thoroughly checkout a company's references be sure to use our How to Hire a Contractor Checklist. If you KNOW you're too busy to do a proper check yourself - Smart Consumer Services offers a painless way to check the references of a prospective contractor. The end result is a complete Reference Report, which frequently results in the contractor himself agreeing to deduct the cost of the Reference Check from your contract total, anyway... so you actually pay nothing for the service yourself.

How the Contractor Reference Check works:

  1. You place the Reference Check order by calling the Smart Consumer Services toll-free number
    (1-877-662-8767).... Providing the contracting company's name, address and telephone number. We bill your credit card at that time.
    Or use our SECURE online order form.

  2. Next, we contact the company and let them know that Mr. & Mrs. So-and-So-- their prospective customers--have asked Smart Consumer Services to check the company's references before they sign the contract.

  3. We ask immediately if the company would be willing to deduct the amount of the Reference Check ($59.95 max) from your contract total. Then we ask the firm to supply us with a specific list of commercial, insurance, license and past customer references.

  4. After checking each of their references, (in addition to getting reports from the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs) we send you a detailed Reference Check Report of our findings.

What Does It Tell You? The Reference Check Report tells you more about a business's REAL activities, history and reputation than any other single source of information. It helps YOU make an informed decision. It may also help you avoid making a devastating and costly mistake.

What Does It Cost You? Ordered alone-- the Contractor Reference Check fee is just $59.95. Is $60 worth it? Yes, if you put it in perspective. How many THOUSANDS are you risking on this project?

Contractor May Deduct the Cost. Keep in mind that almost any legitimate contractor is happy to reduce their contract total by the small amount of the Reference Check you've ordered. It's a win-win situation for you and the contracting firm. They get a smart new customer who did their homework. You get the reassurance that you're hiring a qualified firm... probably without having to pay for that reassurance.

An Even Smarter Approach. No matter how wonderful your new contractor, make sure you review their proposed contract BEFORE you sign it, for loopholes, omissions and mistakes that could cost you later. Consider ordering the Reference Check Report as a package with the Contract Advocacy Review, the other highly-recommended Smart Consumer Homeowner Survival Service.

The national homeowner advocacy organizations, United Homeowners Association and American Homeowners Association, have endorsed the Smart Consumer Services Contract Advocacy Review and Contractor Reference Check. Our services have been noted in major publications including Bob Vila's American Home, American HomeStyle & Gardening, Professional Remodeler, Smart Money, Qualified Remodeler, Reader's Digest Books and other publications.

© 2002 Smart Consumer Services. All Rights Reserved.

This material is not in the public domain. Neither this material, nor any part of this material, may be reproduced, sold, re-sold, posted, directly linked, framed, traded, incorporated within other material, or given away without the express writte n permission of the Smart Consumer Services.