Home Repair Basics: Finding and Hiring a Contractor
Your home is a valuable asset. Sometimes it needs repair. Protect your home by seeking out and hiring reputable contractors to work on your residence. Use the following checklist to start your search for a contractor.
Home Repair How-To Checklist
1. Use Vermont contractor registries to make an informed decision. Contractors:
- Registered as a contractor with the Secretary of State agree to meet Vermont professional standards.
- On the Home Improvement Fraud Registry have been convicted of home improvement fraud.
2. Ask for recommendations from your community – friends, neighbors, family, co-workers.
3. Once you identify a contractor you are considering for your project, do more research.
- Lookup complaint history online, using the name of the contractor and “scam” or “complaint” in your search.
- Contact the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) and ask if they have complaints filed against the contractor you are considering, the timeframe and the nature of the complaints.
- Review Better Business Bureau complaint history.
4. Ask the contractor to show you their active registration and insurance policy.
5. Get quotes from 2-3 other reputable contractors. Quotes should include the expected payment timeline (ideally with a deposit of no more than 10-30%) and ask for references from prior jobs.
6. Make sure all project expectations are in writing; request a written contract or estimate and do not sign anything you do not agree with.
7. DO NOT pay all at once! Request an invoice and offer to pay at completion, by installment, or with a reasonable down payment for labor and materials.
Once hired, keep track of all invoices, bills and communication between you and your contractor.
Home Improvement Contractor Complaints:
For residential contractor complaints:
Residential contractors are now required to register with the Secretary of State's Office of Professional Regulation. This requirement applies to any residential contractor who performs construction where the estimated value is $10,000 or more, inclusive of labor and materials. Home contractors will also be required to maintain insurance and execute a written contract. More information on how to comply with this new law, including frequently asked questions, is available on the Secretary of State's website. Consumers with complaints against such contractors can file complaints directly with the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR).
Contact CAP to file a complaint:
Complaints against home improvement contractors that fall outside of OPR’s jurisdiction can be filed directly with the Consumer Assistance Program, which will contact the business on your behalf in an attempt to resolve your complaint. In addition, your complaint will become part of the public record, so that consumers who inquire about the contractor will become aware of your complaint.
Contact law enforcement to report criminal home improvement fraud:
If you believe you have been defrauded by a contractor or you paid a contractor for a home improvement project and no work was completed, you may also file a police report of home improvement fraud with your local police department or other law enforcement agency. Home improvement fraud is a crime, and it can be prosecuted in Vermont.