Driving through my neighborhood this week I noticed a sign staked off the side of the road with the handwritten message: “Tree Removal.” The only other information on it was a phone number.
Seems like every time an event like the recent ice storm hits, there’s a slew of “contractors” that come out of the woodwork.
Before calling that guy on the sign, remember he is probably not registered with the state as a contractor. That means he may not have insurance if he trims a tree that subsequently falls onto your house. Also, I believe that if he falls and injures himself, the unsuspecting homeowner that hired him could be liable.
The state Department of Labor & Industries says a little homework upfront can protect homeowners from fraud, shoddy work or bad contractors.
L&I says to take these steps when hiring a contractor or tree trimmer:
• Visit www.HiringAContractor.Lni.wa.gov to verify the company is registered, how much insurance they carry and their bonding capacity.
• Beware of contractors who ask to be paid in cash, have a check made out to someone other than the business, work just weekends or use high-pressure sales tactics.
• Avoid paying a large deposit or the entire cost upfront, and be sure to get the required Notice to Customer disclosure for any project that is more than $1,000.
• If subcontractors are used, or costly materials from suppliers, get lien releases from them. Before making final payment on the job, make sure subcontractors aren’t owed any money. Unpaid subcontractors can hold you responsible for their work by putting liens on your home.