HINTS FOR HOMEOWNERS


Eight Tips For Hiring A Quality Contractor For Your Next Digging Project

(NAPSI)—An excellent way to celebrate the season is with an outdoor home improvement project: a pool, perhaps, or professional landscaping.

Many such home improvements, including planting trees, involve some type of digging. Selecting a quality contractor will help ensure workers follow proper digging practices while completing the project safely, on time and on budget.

What To Look For

Here are eight tips to help you select the right professional:

• Verify that safety is the contractor’s top priority. Because many outdoor home improvement projects involve digging, confirm the contractor will follow the practice of calling 811 at least 48 hours before breaking ground. In some places, such as the state of Ohio, it’s the law, and utilities—including Columbia Gas—will send personnel to mark line locations at no cost.

“We urge our contractors to always call 811 to keep everyone safe,” said Sandy Munley, executive director, Ohio Landscape Association. “Workers and homeowners should never assume they know where gas and other utility lines are located.”

• Consider a specialist for your type of project. Contractor specialists have the knowledge, equipment and tools for certain projects. You’ll want a pool contractor, for example, to build the inground pool with vinyl liner. You’ll want a concrete professional to install that winding walkway. Contractor specialists are listed online or you can contact professional associations such as the Better Business Bureau.

• Request and check references thoroughly. Family, friends and other businesses can provide contractor names. When contacting contractors, ask each to supply at least three references—and then call those people. Ask questions. Was the contractor on time and on budget? Were you pleased with the results? Request photos or visit completed jobs.

• Confirm the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured. A contractor should provide copies of current licenses and insurance certificates—make sure all workers are bonded and insured. Personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage insurance protect you from liability in the event of injuries or accidents.

• Ask if the contractor will handle trash removal. You may have containers, wood, plants and other debris that must be hauled from your property. Verify the contractor will manage this task and will include a dumpster or other trash removal costs in the estimate.

• Select a contractor who’ll commit to a timeline. It should include when work will begin, when materials will arrive and when most of the work will be completed. Include extra time for unexpected problems or delays.

• Realize you get what you pay for. Cheaper isn’t always better and, in most instances, you should stay away from the contractor with the lowest bid. Instead, know your needs and prioritize what’s most important. You may be able to remove less significant frills to keep your project within budget.

• Avoid contractors requiring more than 30 percent up front. Instead, work with one who lets you establish a payment schedule that follows the project’s progress. Make the final payment after you thoroughly inspect the finished project and are completely satisfied with the results.

“A professionally designed and installed landscaping project will provide years of enjoyment for you and your family,” Munley said. “Additionally, the project can increase the value of your home while improving curb appeal.”

Learn More

For further advice about safe digging practices and what types of home projects require a call to 811, visit www.columbiagasohio.com/811.

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Selecting a quality contractor will help ensure a home improvement project is completed safely, on time and on budget.


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