Education Facility Managers

Looking for a Flooring Contractor? Five Things to Evaluate

by Jason Brubaker

Even if you're not a homeowner or business owner, there's a very good chance that you've heard your fair share of horror stories when it comes to contractors. Whether it's contractors incorrectly performing the work, not finishing the agreed upon work on time or on budget or trying to hold you liable for an injury that was sustained while working on your project, many contractors don't exactly have the rosiest reputation when it comes to working with homeowners or business owners.

In most cases, the end result was well worth any stress or frustration along the way, but it shouldn't have to be this way when working with a professional contractor. In fact, you should expect the task at hand to be carried out correctly, efficiently, professionally and within the projected budget on each and every job.

Commercial flooring contractors are no exception to the standards we've laid out above, but you might be wondering just how you can differentiate between a poor contractor and a good contractor. Here's a look at five things you should be evaluating and keeping a lookout for when it comes to making this all-important decision on contracting out your next flooring project:

5 Things to Consider When Hiring

1. Licensing and Insurance

If any contractor you seek an estimate from isn't licensed, bonded and insured, immediately dismiss them from any decision you have to make regarding them performing the work on your project. In some cases, this can be difficult to do, as unlicensed contractors often bid out projects a bit cheaper than those who are qualified and ethical, but the potential risks outweigh any benefits of going this route.

Licensing proves that the contractor went through the necessary steps to become accredited in their respective state of work. In fact, many states won't even license contractors unless they can prove that they are insured. Ensuring that a contractor is bonded is important too, as this covers all the costs associated with repairing or replacing any incorrect or ineffective work that the contractor performed. In a sense, a bond is kind of like an unofficial guarantee that the work was performed correctly. Lastly, there's the all important aspect of insurance.

If a contractor fails to have insurance, he could technically sue you, the business owner, for any injury that was sustained on your property while performing the work. That's a legal mess that you absolutely don't want to get yourself into. We repeat, if a contractor is not licensed, bonded and insured, run.

2. Solicit bids and get detailed contracts

In general, it's recommended that you solicit at least three bids for any type of job that you're contracting out. But don't just hold the contractor at their word when it comes to giving you a price, make sure that you receive a detailed contract that itemizes all of the costs associated with it. This can help you compare and contrast each estimate and give you a better idea of where you're getting the most value for your money.

But don't stop there - we also recommend visiting each contractor's finished job sites on similar flooring projects so that you can get a better sense as it pertains to the quality of the work that is performed. (This should be very easy to do if you're analyzing other commercial flooring jobs, as you can likely just appear at the business to get a look for yourself.) For instance, if one contractor issues a 15 percent higher estimate than the others, but the finished job is noticeably higher quality than the other two professionals you're considering, it makes sense to strongly consider that individual. That's why bids shouldn't just end with a verbally communicated estimate, but with an itemized contract and with you taking things a step further and requesting to view finished similar jobs.

3. Do your homework

When it comes to weighing contractors, don't stop judging them at the estimate and by seeing their completed work - do a more thorough investigation into the type of worker that they are. Go to their website and look for special industry certifications that go above and beyond just being licensed contractors. Also, look out for Better Business Bureau and Angie's List designations, which carry the weight of credibility as well.

Don't stop at just their website, peek in on their social media accounts to see how regularly they update and how they handle any negativity that gets posted to Twitter or Facebook. Furthermore, be sure to check out sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages where previous customers are able to rate and write reviews on services such as this. Doing your homework and ensuring that contractors check out aside from their contracts and end work examples is essential to verifying that you're doing business with a credible, ethical contractor.

4. Know your subcontractors

While subcontractors aren't used as often during flooring projects as they are on remodels and renovations, it's still important to know a) if any are scheduled to be used, and b) that these subcontractors are licensed, bonded and insured as well. Additionally, it makes sense to get a list of any subcontractors being used to ensure that they're credible as well. Like we said, you likely won't run into a lot of subcontractors during a flooring project unless it's an extensive flooring project that incorporates elements of a remodel as well, but it's important to know before you sign anything.

5. Trust your instincts

If something seems too good to be true, it's usually because it is too good to be true. Unfortunately, many people hold onto the hope that their expectations will match reality as it pertains to certain things, only to be disappointed at the outcome. You don't want to be in a situation with a contractor where you're over-sold and then under whelmed at the end of the job. In that sense, it's important to trust your instincts. Does the contractor come across like a used car salesman? Does he talk a good talk, but stumble when it comes to job specifics? Is he scoffing at the suggestion of providing you with a written estimate? Does he dodge questions about licensing and insurance? While this may seem like a common sense point, many business owners don't draw a line between quality and cost when it comes to contracting out a flooring job.

So while a contractor might promise you the world, and for a cheaper price than the other estimates you got, is it really worth taking a leap of faith and hiring them if you're uncertain as to how the final project is going to look? Trust your instincts with contractors and make sure that you do enough vetting. Talk to them enough to be certain that whoever you're hiring knows their stuff. The last thing you want is to have to replace your flooring in 5 years because the job was done poorly by a contractor more concerned about making money and earning jobs than performing good, quality work.