8 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring Any Contractor

January 25, 2014

Recently we have become aware of 2 non-licensed competitors offering similar floor coating services in the Portland and Vancouver area. It’s not uncommon for someone to overlook their license renewal and have a license suspended for a very short period of time but contractors like this undercut reputable applicators who are licensed, bonded and insured as they don’t have the overheads of these costs. This is the only way they can offer services substantially below what most contractors are able to bid projects at.
Always be cautious if you have received 3-4 bids and someone is substantially lower than their competitors – there are many reputable coatings applicators in the Portland area that have been installing floor coatings for many years and these fly-by-night operators give the industry a bad name.
Don’t get caught out by working with an unlicensed applicator that could leave you with no recourse.
Below is a list of 8 questions you should ask every contractor before you make your decision.

#1 HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS … AND/OR WITH THIS COMPANY?
It is very common for people in the construction industry to deceive customers about their experience.
Often people may state something like “In Business for 10 Years” but they have only been in business for themselves for 6 months and have worked for other contractors for 10 years. Since most businesses fail within the first 2 years, you would want to be clear on this to make sure your contractor is around to do any warranty work. We have been installing floor coatings in the Portland area since 2005.

#2 WHERE DO I GO FOR WARRANTY WORK IF YOU GO OUT OF BUSINESS?
If you have a concrete covering applied and it starts coming off in a year, what do you do now? You call the business who applied the product and find their number is disconnected, now what? The warranty you were given is worthless if you cannot track down the company or the business owner. Unfortunately many businesses have gone out of business to remove themselves from warranty issues and then started up a new company under a different name.
All of our warranties are backed by each and every manufacturer we represent – these vary based on the application so please ask for more details.

#3 ARE YOU PROPERLY LICENSED AND BONDED?
If a company is not licensed then that company may be doing business illegally. If a company is not bonded they legally they cannot ask you for a deposit (even if you offer to give them a deposit).
Alternative Surfaces is licensed and bonded in Oregon & Washington. Our Oregon License Number is CCB # 185031 and our Washington License Number is WA # ALTERSL913BG. Our business carries a one million dollar insurance policy. We are licensed, bonded and insured in Oregon + Washington.

#4 DO YOU HAVE WORKERS COMPENSATION COVERAGE?
If a contractor does not have current workers compensation coverage, you and your home insurance are at risk. If one of their employees gets hurt on your property while installing your project, they can sue you and you can be held liable. You may think that your home insurance has enough liability insurance to cover these types of situations, but this may not be the case. In any case if your insurance has to pay out a claim, you can be sure your home insurance premiums will be increased next year. DO NOT GET CAUGHT OUT! Call the Workers Compensation Board at 1-800-285-8525 to check whether the company you are hiring is covered and is in good standing.
Our Workers Compensation Account Number is 20-2807969

#5 HAVE YOUR PRODUCTS BEEN TESTED FOR THE OREGON CLIMATE?
Yes they have – these products can be installed below freezing and up to 100 degrees. There would be nothing worse than to have a product installed that was designed for the climate of California or Florida, and is not suitable for the climate of Oregon. The freeze and thaw cycles that we experience here in Oregon can cause a product that is not made for our climate to deteriorate sooner than promised. And when these problems appear during the winter months you cannot do anything to solve these problems until warmer weather. By that time it may be too late to repair the surface.

#6 IF I DO BUSINESS WITH YOU, WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Beware if the contractor cannot show you what you can expect through samples, pictures, or a video. Are you able to make a good decision on who to hire and feel confident in the contractors ability to install the job properly? ASK lots of questions and be sure you know what you are getting. Alternative Surfaces representatives can show you a pictures and samples of exactly what you will get and explain what to expect during the installation process. No guesswork is required. We are also more than happy to provide you with an extensive list of references to call and view in person.

#7 DO YOU TAKE ANY SHORTCUTS?
If the contractor describes his installation, make sure it makes sense. You wouldn’t put a new coat of paint on your old car without washing and preparing the base would you? If a concrete coating is applied without proper preparation of the sub-surface thoroughly first, the product will not adhere properly to the sub-surface which will lead to problems for you in the near future. If the concrete coating is applied in cold temperatures or during wet conditions, again the product will not adhere to the subsurface properly and this will cause the product to deteriorate.

#8 DO YOU HAVE REFERENCES?
All contractors should have testimonials or references available for you to review. They should also have “before and after” pictures of work that they have previously done. If they hesitate in anyway, look for another contractor because this usually indicates that they have a lot of unhappy clients or they have very few clients.
Alternative Surfaces representatives will be happy to provide local references & testimonials. We also have a number of pictures that can show you the type of work that we do. We won’t hesitate to show you our work.

Call us today for a no-pressure, complimentary design consultation with an Alternative Surfaces Professional.
Phone: (503) 830-0207
FAX: (503) 961-8578