The Ultimate Homeowner's
Guide to House Maintenance
North Central WV Home Builders Association
Your home is your most important investment. Be sure you are making the best decisions with the following tips from the knowledgeable experts at North Central WV Home Builders Association. Since 1942, we have worked to promote and protect the reality of the American Dream.
Before You Hire A Contractor
Dishonest contractors are one of the top reasons homeowners file complaints with the Better Business Bureau. You can avoid becoming a victim of an unscrupulous contractor by taking the following steps BEFORE you hire a contractor:
Step One: Find a Contractor
Locate a reputable contractor by contacting your local homebuilder’s association and asking friends, family, and coworkers for referrals.
Prepare a list of reputable contractors before you need one. The stress of an emergency could impair your judgment.
Step Two: Vet the Contractor
Contact the following agencies to vet the contractor:
1. Contact the trade association(s) the contractor belongs to. Ask whether membership includes adherence to a code of ethics (and if so, what those stipulations are), the minimum hours of satisfactory work, and trade exams required. At North Central WV Home Builders Association, we hold our members to the highest possible standards of Integrity so you can choose any of our professionals with confidence.
2. Contact the West Virginia State Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division. Ask if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Call or email: 1-800-368-8808, 304-558-8986, or [email protected].
3. Contact the Better Business Bureau. Ask if any complaints have been filed against the contractor. Call: 1-877-267-5222.
Step 3: Confirm Contractor Qualifications
Confirm the qualifications of the contractor by requesting all of the following documentation:
1. Copy of Contractor’s License
2. Insurance Certification (Both General Liability & Workers’ Compensation)
3. References for Similar Projects (be sure to confirm)
Step 4: Secure Quote & Warranty
If you have determined that the contractor is qualified to perform the work, proceed to request a quote and warranty for review and approval.
1. Quote (Signed, Itemized List of Material & Labor)
2. Warranty (Written for the Specific Job and Signed)
Step 5: Examine Contract
Once all aspects of the project are agreed upon, examine the contract to ensure it includes the following:
1. Detailed Project Description (Including All Work to be Done)
2. Cost and Payment Schedule
3. Time Schedule and Completion Date
4. Written Inclusion of Guarantees and Other Expectations
After Job Completion
Release of Liens
Before you sign off to certify that all work has been completed and performed as agreed upon, make sure that the contractor and any/all subcontractors and material suppliers have signed a Release of Lien form. This form confirms that all debts owed have been paid, accepted as payment in full, and waives the contractor’s right to place a lien on your property in the future. It is your responsibility to supply this form and secure legal counsel to confirm its validity for your intended purpose.
Contractor Red Flags
You should beware of the following red flags when looking for a contractor to perform work on your home. You may want to reconsider if the contractor:
-asks you to pay the entire balance upfront.
-only accepts cash.
-avoids giving you a written contract.
-lists only a P.O. Box without a street address.
-has a vehicle that doesn’t list the business name.
-offers to pay your insurance deductible.
Be extra careful if you:
-have little to no experience hiring home contractors.
-have a disability or injury which prevents you from accessing areas of your home that a contractor claims are damaged.
-do not fully understand the contract wording.
-tend to shy away from asking tough questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask a more experienced friend or relative for assistance when hiring a contractor. If you do not understand the contract with 100% clarity, you may consider hiring an attorney to review the document before signing. It is far better to err on the side of caution and protect yourself than find out afterward that you have fallen victim to a contractor scam.
Have You Been Victimized by a Contractor Scam?
At North Central WV Home Builders Association, we work hard to ensure the highest integrity of our industry for both our benefit, as well as the customers we serve. The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to educate yourself in advance; however, if you have already been victimized by an unscrupulous contractor or a contracting scam, there are steps you can take to seek justice. Learn more about filing a consumer complaint at the USA.gov website and the Better Business Bureau. You are encouraged to report what happened to you to help protect others through the BBB Scam Tracker℠ and file a complaint with the West Virginia Attorney General.
Consumer Protection –
Office of the West Virginia Attorney General
WV Minimum Contractor Licensing Requirements
All West Virginia contractors are required to have a license when the aggregate (total) amount of work (including the cost of labor and materials) is $2,500 or more.
The minimum requirement for contractors performing any onsite plumbing work is a West Virginia Journeyman Plumbers License.
The minimum requirement for contractors performing any onsite electrical work is a West Virginia Journeyman Electrician License.
Learn more about contractor licensing requirements from the West Virginia Division of Labor.
IT IS THE HOMEOWNER’S RESPONSIBILITY TO NOTIFY HOMEOWNERS
INSURANCE COMPANY OF WORK PERFORMED AT THE RESIDENCE
Maintenance Tips for Homeowners
North Central WV Home Builders Association encourages homeowners to review the following maintenance tips to help protect their home investment. We also recommend that our builder and remodeler members consider providing clients with the following information as an educational resource, as part of our duty and service responsibility. Share these home maintenance tips with your current and prospective clients via social media or your company newsletter.
NAHB Remodelers recommends that homeowners keep the following inspection and maintenance tips handy. Make sure your home is in great shape from top to bottom!
Inspect the Roof
– Check your roof for loose, warped, or missing shingles. Make sure chimney flashing and skylight seals are intact.
Clean and Repair Gutters
– Clear winter storm debris from gutters and downspouts, and check that they are still securely attached to the house. Blocked or loose gutters can allow water into your home and damage trim.
Look for Leaks
– Common locations of hard-to-find leaks include attics, crawlspaces and washing machine hoses. Inspect these areas, look under sinks for damage from frozen pipes, and check your water heater for signs of corrosion.
Clear Exterior Drains
– Remove leaves from underground or exterior drains to clear the way for spring showers and prevent backups.
– Look for and fix pieces that have come loose during winter storms.
Check Window & Door Seals
– Examine the exterior caulking on door and window seals to ensure it remains watertight.
– Patch cracks in concrete and asphalt driveways, sidewalks, and steps to keep water out and prevent further expansion.
Paint the Exterior
– Painting or touching up paint on the exterior of your home not only makes it look better, but will also help protect it from the elements.
Inspect the HVAC
– Hire a qualified technician to service your home’s HVAC system to make sure it is running properly, especially as air conditioning season is in full swing. Now is also the time to replace your HVAC filters.
Check Your Home’s Grading
– Ensure the grading of your yard slopes away from your home’s foundation to keep excess moisture at bay.