Before you go ahead and jump the gun on hiring a company to perform any type of work on your house, office space, or another property, you should make sure to look into that person’s or that company’s credentials. If you skip this integral step, there’s no telling what kind of background or history they may have. Some of the things to think about are the contractor’s license status and any complaint history they may have. Another way to get firsthand knowledge about the contractor is to speak to them directly about their experiences and preferences.
You can look up a Virginia licensed contractor in 3 easy steps:
1. Check the contractor’s license status.
The first thing you can do to find a reputable contractor is to look into their qualifications. In Virginia, you can use the state website to look up verified contractors and check their license status. You can do this by visiting the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) website at http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/.
Using the “License Lookup” tool is very useful and will give you viewing access of helpful information regarding the contractor you searched or any other contractor within the state. You can look up a license using the license number, the name of the contractor, the address of the business, the type of license it is, or the board that the contractor is a part of (if applicable). The search results for a broader category will yield a large variety of contracting companies, so you will need to sort through them to find the one you are looking for, while searching something contractor-specific (like their license number) should only result in that one contractor.
2. Look into the contractor’s performance history.
You can also use the same database as before (on the DPOR website) for exploring the complaint history of a contractor. By clicking the “Disciplinary Action Search” tool, the website will allow you to review certain complaints that have been given for the company you are investigating. You can also consult the BBB, or Better Business Bureau. The BBB can help supplement any information you might not have received from the DPOR website.
There are also plenty of public records that note any judgement or possible lien against businesses, so you could find the official records of those. Another great way to get an idea about the history of a contractor is by researching their online reviews. Sites like HomeAdvisor and Yelp are helpful resources for this endeavor (and are also free!). The more places you check the more complete of a history you will be able to learn, therefore allowing you to make the most informed decision when hiring a contractor.
3. Contact the contractor directly.
Oftentimes, a contractor can give you personal references to refer to if you reach out and ask for them. If everything is looking good from their license status to their complaint history, you can take it one step further by inquiring about a contractor’s personal references. Some examples of personal references you could contact are employers, trainers, past employees, and clients. Clients are good resources when inquiring about their overall encounter with that contractor while past employers and employees are good for finding out details about the contractor’s timeliness and work ethic.
Confirming the contractor’s contact information and address to make sure they match the license search results is also very important. Use the phone number listed online to give them a call, and then stop by their office to see just how professional their space is. Another thing to look into is the contractor’s insurance coverage; insurance for commercial general liability is definitely a must have for your contractor in order to keep you safe from any legal issues that an accident on the job might incur, even though contractors are trained in how to avoid hazards in the workplace.
If you are interested in becoming a contractor, check out our contractor exam prep on our Contractors Institute website today.