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5 things to Ask Your Contractor

Five Things You Should Ask Your Contractor Before They Work In Your Home Or Business

These five things are of utmost importance in helping you prevent costly mistakes, unnecessary risks and pesky headaches. Pardon our directness here, but let’s just shoot straight.

Let’s be plain: You usually call an electrical, plumbing, air conditioning and heating contractor because:

a) something’s broke
b) you’re considering an equipment upgrade
c) you’re having a new building, home or addition built

Since any one of those can be stressful all by itself, the last thing you want is to add to the panic or irritation. Yet it happens regularly. That’s why we created this list of the five things you need to ask any contractor before they work in your home or business. Save yourself some trouble by checking on the following before inviting any contractor into your home or business:

  • Credentials

    If a contractor’s palms start sweating and a stutter appears as soon as you ask for licensing information, it’s probably a safe bet that you should take your business elsewhere.

    Whether it’s a electrical, HVAC, or plumbing contractor they should be able to readily (and eagerly) provide licensing and insurance information, as well as at least five references from recent customers. Be sure to check the references and inquire about timeliness, job performance and overall satisfaction of results.

    Dixie has been serving the needs of Montgomery and Auburn, AL for over 100 years. We are fully licensed and insured. To us, “unlicensed” or “uninsured” is the same as saying “unconcerned with potential disasters and home safety.”

  • Training, Experience, Character

    You don’t want to be the training class for an inexperienced electrician or technician, or else you’ll pay while he learns. Guesswork should be settled in the classroom.

    The problem is, by the time you see him shrugging his shoulders and tossing the “extra” parts back on his truck, it may be too late to ask about training. So, simply ask about training policies for anyone that may be working on the job and ask about hiring requirements BEFORE you invite a contractor to your home or business.

    At Dixie, we don’t mind telling you (okay, now we’re bragging) that our electricians and technicians go through Advanced Professional training and certification, and each year we re-train on basics and advance train for specifics. The changes in technology and the demands of modern equipment are way different than just a few years ago. If you don’t keep up, you’re left behind.

    On the subject of “character,” you’ve heard and read enough about Contractor Scams, Drug Use Among Tradespeople, Illegitimate Billing Practices, and more to worry you (and us!) into a corner. That’s why we drug test regularly, background check, use photo IDs, triple-check the quality of our work, use standardized billing and hire people like they were coming to our house… since in effect, they are. We only hire about 1 in 90 applicants. We presume the others go to work somewhere else.

  • Up-Front Pricing

    Beware of any contractor that asks for a deposit first. If a contractor claims the deposit is “to buy supplies,” that’s a bad sign; credible contractors should have open accounts with local suppliers. Your deposit may be headed to pay a bill instead of purchasing your supplies.

    With Dixie Electric, Plumbing & Air’s Up-Front pricing policy you’ll know the price from start to finish before we begin the work and we will ask for payment only when work has been completed.

  • Scheduling

    If a contractor says, “We should be there in the next day or so,” keep looking. Are you supposed to wait around on a “maybe”? Or if it’s an emergency, you need a quick response, not an appointment a week from Tuesday. That’s why real-live human beings answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making intelligent scheduling decisions based on travel radius, availability and urgency.
    Plus, at Dixie the scheduling is explained. You’re given a specific time, and we’ll be there – guaranteed, just like we’ve been doing for the past hundred years. To us, a “no show” is unprofessional and uncaring, two pretty bad traits for a contractor.

  • Guarantees

    If you don’t get a guarantee and something fails, you get to pay to have the same problem fixed twice. That doesn’t sound fair, but that’s what happens on many jobs we “fix” after another contractor has packed up and left with your money.

    This is an awkward situation for us, since the home or business owner is not in the best mood, but we do everything we can to minimize the inconvenience. Usually, we’re told they chose the other company because it was “a bargain.” Paying twice is usually not much of a bargain in the end.

    Ask about guarantees in writing. (Sad but true: It’s very hard to enforce the spoken word.) If the answer is something like, “Oh, trust me it’ll be fine. What do you need a guarantee for?” then be very concerned. This is why Dixie puts our guarantees in writing.

    You’re calling a contractor because you have a problem. His job is to solve those problems – not add to them. Being meticulous in your choice can save you time, money and quite possibly a few gray hairs.