How to Choose the Right Contractor,
11 Questions to Ask Before Inviting Him Out To Your Home

1. Are you licensed?

Make sure your contractor is properly licensed.  In the State of Virginia, all contractors MUST be certified by the State and hold County business licenses for all areas where work is performed.  Anyone can say they are licensed.  Make the contractor prove it by either showing you the license or giving you a copy of it. Remember to check the expiration date and classification codes to make sure they are licensed for your specific type of project.  If your project consists of new framing or structural repairs, the contractor must be a licensed Builder as well as a Class A contractor.  Only Builder contractors are qualified to obtain County building permits for structural projects.  Being licensed is the law.  If a contractor cannot produce a valid license, DON'T HIRE HIM!

If you live in a townhouse, villa, or high rise condominium building with four or more units, only a Building Contractor or General Contractor is permitted to perform remodeling work.  Do not hire a Residential Contractor; he would be operating outside of his license.  Furthermore, hire a specialty contractor (trim carpentry, drywall, glazing, aluminum, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, roofing, etc.) to do only the type of work the license specifies.

If you have any questions or doubts, call the Virginia Department of Business and Professional Regulation, or your local County Construction Industry licensing board.

Tip:  Unlicensed contractors may expose you to significant financial risk and possible harm in the event of personal injury or property damage, as few carry bonding or workers' compensation insurance.
Regents Construction holds the following licenses Class A and Master Electrical license and is classified as a Commercial Improvement Contractor, Home Improvement Contractor and Roofing Contractor.

 2. Do you carry general liability insurance?

Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance.  This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees.  The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing and/or repairing any damage that occurs.

Anyone can say they are insured.  Ask the contractor to have their insurance company FAX or mail you a certificate of insurance with you named as the certificate holder.

Regents Construction carries general liability insurance with limits of 1 million General Liability, 1 million Commercial Auto, 2 million Umbrella policy.

3. Do you carry workers' compensation insurance?

Make sure your contractor carries workers' compensation insurance.  It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property.  Be aware that if the contractor doesn't carry workers' compensation coverage, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor or any of his employees on your property.

If the contractor is a one-man operation, he can be exempt from having to carry workers' compensation insurance.  If he is doing so legally, he can provide you with a copy of his Construction Industry Certificate of Exemption from Workers' Compensation.  This is very risky for you though.  If he shows up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers' compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills.  If the uninsured contractor is sloppy about verifying his sub-contractor's workers' compensation insurance and the sub-contractor gets hurt, again you may have to pay the medical bills.  In short, it is much safer to deal with a fully insured contractor.

Regents Construction carries workers compensation coverage with limits of  $500,000.

4. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver?

Your contractor should provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of the job.  This is a legal document which says you, the homeowner, have paid the contractor in full for the services rendered and the contractor waives his right to place a mechanic's lien on your property.  If during the course of construction you receive any Notice to Owner documents from material suppliers or sub-contractors, it would be prudent to ask the contractor for a Final Release of Lien from each one prior to paying the contractor his final draw.  This protects you in case the contractor doesn't pay his material suppliers or sub-contractors after you have paid him in full.

Regents Construction will provide you with a written lien waiver.

5. Will you pull all the required building permits?

Make sure your contractor pulls all required permits.  This is very important.  When a contractor pulls the required building permits, you know things will be done to "code".  Also, many homeowners’ insurance policies require pulling a permit on any major remodeling to keep your home properly covered.  Not all contractors will do this.  Many prefer not to pull permits because of the time involved and the "hassle" with the inspectors.  Some contractors may ask you to get the permits.  This could be a warning sign that they are not able to pull the permit because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside of their license.  A reputable contractor will permit every job where a permit is required.
TIP:  Be wary of “contractors” who say they can save you money by not pulling permits for a room addition, kitchen or bath remodeling project.

Regents Construction will pull all the necessary permits.

6. Do you guarantee your work?

Your contractor should guarantee his work for at least one year from date of completion.  Some contractors guarantee their work for two or even three years. Regents guarantees work for 1-5 years, depending on trades performed.

7. Who will be in charge of the job?

Make sure the contractor or his foreman is on the job whenever work is being performed - especially if sub-contractors will be used.  The responsible party must be intimately familiar with every aspect of your project.  If you won't be home during the construction and must leave the house unlocked, or leave a key with the contractor, you must feel comfortable.  You can't be worried about what is going on when you are not there.

8. Will you provide me with written references?

A good contractor will be happy to provide you with references.  You should look for a well-established contractor who can give you several client references from the last 6 months to one year.  Ask for the name of the contractor's accountant or banker.  You want to ensure the contractor is financially sound and won't be declaring bankruptcy in the middle of your project.

Regents Construction always provides references and will also upon meeting; provide you with a list of references with phone numbers. Please see our testimonials (link)

9. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?

When a significant source of a contractor’s business is derived from repeat and referral business, it usually indicates that his clients are pleased with the work they’ve received.  

Regents Construction attracts over 81.3% of our business via referrals or repeat clients. Referrals and repeat clients is the greatest compliment we can receive.

10. How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year?

Your contractor should have experience in the type of remodeling project you want done – not just “contracting experience”.

TIP:  Be wary of “contractors” who state they can give you a firm bid for labor and materials without a set of plans and specifications

Regent’s Construction has been entrusted with Jobs that range from children’s play grounds, state and federal government buildings and homes in all price ranges.

11. How do you handle "dirty work"?

Construction is dusty and dirty!  It gets everywhere, especially if any sanding is being done.  Make sure the contractor will make an honest effort to keep the dust contained, or notify you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive belongings.  Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up and place all construction debris in a predetermined place or refuse container at the end of every day.

Regents construction has earned a reputation; we are known as the customer first, no-mess, no trash, we’ll even-make-your-neighbors-happy contractor.

We understand that many companies can get the work done, but few can get it done in a way that doesn't make you hate the journey. Feel free to contact us with any further questions or concerns. Simply give us a call to setup your first meeting. We can work around your schedule and make the entire process easy on you and your family.

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(703) 263-1153