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New Homeowners, Build Relationships With Local Tradespeople Before a Catastrophe Strikes

Regular maintenance and repairs are a big part of homeownership. Some tasks make great DIY projects, while others are less straightforward. 

Even with the best maintenance routines, you might have to make an insurance claim someday due to damage from a storm or other catastrophe. Reconstruction tasks can be complex and require specialized skills from various tradespeople, including:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Landscapers
  • Roofers
  • Arborists
  • Carpenters
  • HVAC technicians
  • Painters
  • General contractors

As a new homeowner, you should get to know your local maintenance experts before you need their services. Building positive relationships with local tradespeople can save you time, money and stress when issues arise. You’ll also feel more confident about trusting the person’s opinion and work ethic since you already have a rapport.

You might already be familiar with the hassle of finding a trusted auto mechanic. Home maintenance can be even more complicated. Single-family homes and townhomes pose the most challenges, with many moving parts from sewer lines to windows to roofing. Often, the need for a tradesperson’s skill arises urgently and unexpectedly. Waiting for a crisis to seek a reliable professional might lead to hasty or limited choices.

Begin your research early

Make a list of potential maintenance needs for your house and browse the internet for companies in your area. Read their reviews. Schedule a maintenance call to see if they’re a good fit for your needs. 

For example, if you have many trees on your property, call a few professionals for quotes and schedule a trim. This will keep your trees in tip-top shape and help you establish a relationship. If a windstorm later takes out half your yard, you’ll have someone to call for cleanup. You can use the same technique for your HVAC system. Schedule a routine checkup and see if they’re right for you.

Seek recommendations

Word of mouth remains a reliable way of finding good professionals. Friends, family, colleagues and neighbors are a good place to start. Local hardware stores or your homeowners association may have a list of professionals they use and trust. Your real estate agent is also a good source for local repair and maintenance professionals.

Attend neighborhood events

Neighborhood events, chamber of commerce meetings or cooperatives provide an opportunity to meet with professionals. Stop by, introduce yourself and discuss your potential work needs. They’re looking to build their businesses so you might end up with a lifelong resource.

Make sure they’re licensed and insured

Licensing ensures tradespeople meet the required professional and ethical standards for their trade. Many belong to local unions or trade associations; a local chapter could be a source of information. Insurance coverage is crucial to protect you (and them) in case of accidents, injuries or property damage.

Workers’ compensation should be part of the tradesperson’s insurance coverage. It provides replacement income and pays for medical treatments if their workers are injured on the job. Make sure they have protection for all employees and subcontracted employees. You don’t want your contractor’s employee to sue you for an injury they sustained while working on your house. Request to see their license and certificate of insurance before engaging their services.

Consider bonds a bonus

You might see some advertisements with the slogan “licensed and bonded.” A “bonded” professional has purchased a surety bond, a type of insurance that acts as a financial guarantee. It’s a form of protection for the consumer against losses caused by the actions of the professional, including damage, fraud and default on contractual obligations.

If a bonded professional fails to perform their services as agreed, you can file a claim against the bond to receive compensation. Bonding is required in most commercial industries. Some residential companies have bonds as well. Make sure to verify the tradesperson’s license and insurance information.

Maintain the relationship

Once you’ve found tradespeople you can trust, nurture the relationship by providing them with consistent work, paying them promptly, and referring them to others. They can offer prevention tips and keep what you have in good working order, saving you unnecessary costs in the long run.

In case of emergency

If you’re faced with a catastrophe, you’ll know who to call. You might be competing with many people after a severe weather event, but knowing you have options and an established relationship can help make the recovery process smoother. You may need to alert your independent insurance agent about the damage also. They can help you decide on the best way to proceed.

By doing the work upfront to identify, vet and build relationships with your local tradespeople, you’ll be ready for any home maintenance and repair challenges that come your way.