This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. All opinions are 100% mine.
Nationwide provided me with information regarding its Nationwide Learning Center article. It was about staying safe during home remodeling projects.
And I have to admit–this information couldn’t have come at a better time.
Let me explain to you why.
I’ve got a friend who, just several weeks ago, asked me to come over and help him drywall a small section of wall in his basement. I’m a “drywall newbie,” but I’m always up for a DIY adventure. 🙂
Fast-forward a few weeks and the project has now morphed into the rest of his basement being framed and drywalled (insulation was already in place) by a contractor he’d found on a public advertising site.
I thought nothing of him finding an inexpensive contractor on a public site, which is why I didn’t think to warn him to ask the right questions…
….until I read this Nationwide article on home remodeling safety.
Why You Need To Keep Safety in Mind
Most times, when we think of inviting contractors into our house to do work, what’s the first factor we think of?
Who’s going to get the job done without having to pay an arm and a leg, right?
(You know we Thrift Divers here don’t like paying a lot for home-related things!).
But even though that’s an important consideration, the one area we don’t put enough emphasis on is asking, “Is this contractor going to do the job safely?”
Nationwide reports that safety isn’t something we should take for granted.
In fact, the most common accidents that happen during a home remodeling project are workers falling from ladders or roof, which can cause bone fractures.
Now imagine if those things happen to a contractor (or to someone in your family!) while your house is under construction.
What are the ramifications of that happening? Would your insurance cover it? Does the contractor have insurance to cover it?
I’ll be honest that it’s something that has crossed my mind, but not something I’ve thought seriously about, until reading Nationwide’s article.
The best question to ask is, “What should we know and ask about safety before bringing contractors come into our home to do work?”
It matters less where we find the contractor (e.g. through an advertisement site, through friends, or from a web search).
What matters is that we collected the right information before getting started!
Questions to Ask Before Your House is Under Construction
Based on Nationwide’s article, I pulled out the top 1o questions that we should print out and keep handy for when we have contractors do remodeling and other home improvement projects for us.
If I had read that Nationwide article prior to my friend getting his basement remodeling started, I would have been able to pass these questions along to him to make sure that he was asking the right things before hiring a contractor.
Question #1 Does the contractor have a strong record of safety and accountability?
Talk to previous customers, but be sure to go beyond talking to their references. Check up on the code history of their last five projects to make sure that they adhere to building codes and safety standards.
Question #2 – How does the contractor plan to ensure proper safety precautions during the project?
Find out from the contractor how they plan to draw out a “safety zone” around the job site. Pets, kids, family–you name it–will all need to stay away. Be sure the contractor talks this over with you early.
Question #3 – Does the contractor get projects approved by local buildings departments at each stage?
Projects usually involve getting approval at various stages, including final sign-offs on projects, which is important. Again, check to see if the contractor has a track record of doing this. Check your local buildings department. Ideally, you’ll want to check the last five projects they’ve completed.
Question #4 – What is the contractor’s legal history?
Has the contractor ever been sued? Any legal troubles should come up if you run a check through your county’s court system.
Question #5 – Does the contractor have any complaints or safety violations?
Another thing I had no idea about is that your state’s attorney general’s office handles complaints, from general complaints to new home construction complaints to new car warranty complaints.
(I also didn’t know that Brian E. Frosh was my state’s attorney general, LOL. Good to know!).
Just keep in mind that just because a complaint was made, doesn’t mean one party or the other was correct. But it’s worth knowing and investigating!
Question #6 – How long has the contractor been in business?
Nationwide suggests making sure that the contractor’s company has been in business for as long as the contractor has. The reason that’s important is because if they have started and closed several businesses, it could be a red flag that they aren’t paying their bills or their contractors or
avoiding previous customers.
Question #7 – Does the remodeling contract include a detailed scope of work?
Make sure they’re specific in what they’re going to do and not do. I’ll admit that I haven’t ever asked for a detailed scope of work from anyone who has done work in my house. Going forward, I most certainly will!
Question #8 – Does the contractor have liability insurance? And if so, will they give you a copy of it?
This is really important. If they don’t have insurance, you could be sued if they’re injured in your house or on your property while doing a job. Make sure their insurance covers personal liability, property damage, and worker’s compensation for both the general contractor and for their subcontractors.
Question #9 – What construction-related accidents are or are not covered in your existing policy?
It would be good to know what’s covered in your own policy before having contractors do work! Make sure you know this information. Even if someone is coming to do a free estimate in your home, what happens if they slip and fall? This is good information to know beforehand!
Question #10 – What’s Your Gut Telling You?
Although the Nationwide article on remodeling safety doesn’t include anything about using your gut (yep, that’s pretty subjective!), I have to include this because we’ve all felt the nagging sense when something isn’t right when our guts are telling us that something is “off.” Use that intuition, along with the answers from the other research you’ve done, to tell you whether it’s a great idea to move forward with a contractor or if you should be looking for someone else!
I’ve had my own contractor scares in the past, where work had been done and afterward I had questioned the safety of it. If I had read Nationwide’s article prior to having that work done, I would have known the questions to ask and would have saved myself some unnecessary worrying.
Going forward, I’ll be using these questions and advice from Nationwide to vet contractors a little more closely. I hope you’ve found it as helpful as I did!
Visit Nationwide for more great articles on Home Remodeling Safety Considerations!