With the holiday season around the corner, many people have already started working through their revamp or repairs list before businesses shut down over December.
“Many residents are bringing in cleaning services and contractors to complete repairs before the holiday season hits. Opening your house to contractors can definitely expose you to risk,” says Charnel Hattingh, Group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity ADT.
She says the first and most important step is to vet your contractors thoroughly before you embark on any renovations. “A reputable contractor will usually have references and we recommend you contact these prior to any contracts being signed. You can also do an internet search on the company or contractor to see if there are any red flags (i.e. do they have a website with proper contact details and information). You could also potentially find information on previous work not included in their list of references. You may find that there may be more negative comments than good references or ideas on things to keep in mind if you decide to hire their services, such as their tiling may need attention, or they may not be great with plumbing, to name a few.”
She also says it’s important to question the contractor about the staff that will be on site. “Find out if they are permanent or part time employees. Ideally your safest option is to use a contractor that has their own staff complement.”
“Also, go with your gut feeling. Often a contractor may be all talk and a great sales person, but once the work starts you never hear from them again. You could ask whether they have administrators or assistants who will be in constant contact with you to keep you up to date. Also, remember to ask who the supervisor will be on site, whether they stay on site or move between sites and don’t be afraid to ask whether all employees have had credit and criminal checks done, and whether this can be verified.”
Hattingh believes it is important to be particularly security conscious while renovations are underway and consider putting security systems in place before work commences, “not only to protect your valuables and property but also to ensure your safety while contractors are on site,” she says.
“When work starts, lock away your valuables especially those that are small enough to fit into a pocket or backpack. Make sure all keys are put out of sight. Ensure that your contractor understands your concerns regarding the safety and the security of your property. You may even consider giving the contractor a panic button.”
She suggests leaving guard dogs out while workers are on your premises. “Obviously keep them safe when the contractors are moving in and out of your home, but let the workers be aware that they are there.”
Hattingh adds hiring a casual guard would be a good option to keep an eye on the property while service providers move in and out.
“Often gates are left open as contractors load and offload items, leaving the premises vulnerable. Having a security presence at the property is a great deterrent for opportunistic criminals and sends a message to workers on the property that security is a priority,” she concludes.