Hiring a Contractor

Quality Work
If you are like most families, your home is your most valuable possession and when your home needs to be remodeled or repaired you want competent artisans to do a quality job.

How do you select a responsible company to complete your project? Your 1st step is to have prospective contractors furnish a list of references for recently completed projects. Follow-up by contacting several of the references and ask if you could stop by and look at the work. A call to the Building Inspection Department will let you know if the contractor has completed other projects or if there have been any compliance problems.

It is strongly recommended that a written contract or proposal be used for all work being done. This is signed by both parties and should include the total cost for project, the payment schedule, who is responsible for obtaining the building permit, how changes or additions are handled, and the time frame for completion of the job.

Lien Waivers

When it is time to pay contractors for work completed, many banks and financial institutions require that lien waivers be submitted prior to the release of payment. This assures the homeowner that materials and labor have been paid for and suppliers cannot put liens on the property.

2005 Wisconsin Act 201, the Right to Cure Law says that consumers, at the time of contracting for construction or remodeling work, must be provided with a brochure describing requirements for making any future claims of construction defects. The law was effective Oct. 1, 2006. Read the Right to Cure Brochure (PDF).

Licenses & Registrations
The State of Wisconsin requires all contractors in most construction fields to be licensed and / or registered. Ask the contractor for his license or registration number, this will be verified when a permit is obtained. Please keep in mind that licenses and registrations while required, may not prove the competency of the individual or business. Homeowners may still obtain their own building permit but will be cautioned that they may be held liable for injury or damage.

Avoid hiring any contractor who:
  • Asks you to sign an estimate or authorization before you have decided to hire them
  • Appears to be willing to do the job at an unusually low price
  • Only provides a post office box for their business address
  • Requires full or substantial payment before work begins
  • Refuses to provide you with a written estimate or contract
  • Refuses to provide you with a Wisconsin Department of Commerce Dwelling Contractor Financial Responsibility number (for builders) or license numbers (for electricians, plumbers and heating contractors).
  • Refuses to provide you with references
  • Shows up at your door unsolicited
  • Uses high pressure sales tactics
Credential Check
You can check the status of any person holding a license or credential from the State of Wisconsin from the Department of Safety and Professional Services website.