Twelve years ago, Kevin Ahern, president of Litchfield Builders, in New Haven, Conn., began teaching a class for consumers to help them understand the remodeling market “and to offset some of the negative press that remodelers were getting,” he says. Since then, he has turned his notes into a 29-page class outline.
The two-hour seminar fleshes out three main topics: finding and selecting the right contractor; the legal aspects of a proposal or contract; and the importance of documenting and understanding the scope of work.
Part of the legal discussion includes sharing the important parts of the insurance certificate (below) — a standard form from Ahern’s insurance agent. Ahern also discusses how to check the state’s licensing website and navigate the state consumer protection websites.
Yes, teaching the class generates leads and gets his company’s name out there, but more than that, Ahern says, “it makes us the standard by which others in our market are compared.”
A. Your Name Here
Homeowners should know the exact name of their contractor — whether it’s an entity, a person, or a DBA (doing business as). This information should match up with that remodeler’s licenses.
B. All Covered
It’s important for homeowners to know that the remodeler has auto insurance as well as workers’ compensation and general liability coverage. Explain to homeowners that if a worker accidentally drives into a tree on site, it is the contractor’s responsibility, and he has the necessary insurance to cover that.
In Connecticut, “a one-man band doesn’t have to have worker’s comp,” remodeler Kevin Ahern says. But odds are that person is going to have a helper. If he does, he needs to have worker’s comp insurance. Homeowners should make sure this box is checked. “If it’s not, and someone gets hurt on the homeowner’s property, it will fall to the homeowner’s insurance,” Ahern says.
C. Start to Finish
Sometimes a contractor’s insurance expires mid-project. The homeowner should make sure that the effective dates cover the entire time someone will be at their home. Responsible contractors will have listed additional insureds with their insurance company, which will then send out a new certificate to the homeowner upon renewal.
D. More Than Minimum
A larger remodeling company will (usually) have more insurance than a smaller one. But a company owner might request only the statutory minimum for his general liability coverage, perhaps just $350,000. Homeowners need to make sure that the contractor has enough coverage for a worst-case scenario, e.g., the contractor burning down the house.
E. Promise to Notify
Is the homeowner named as an “additional insured”? If the policy is canceled, altered, or has expired, he or she will be notified by the insurance company. This also covers the mandatory one-year warranty after the project is completed.
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.
Design Workshops: Classes promote a company’s expertise in design/build