Mountain Loop exPress e-News Publication Covering the Greater Granite Falls Area


I’m Just Saying – Contractor 101

May 2, 2014 by

by Janice Huxford, Contributing Writer

zuzuLike bad pick-up lines … you remember instant classics like: “Did it hurt when you fell for me?” and “Let’s rearrange the alphabet and put U next to I” … there are some phrases to avoid while selecting a contractor for any home repair project.  Dave Wallin, Operations Manager of Lake Stevens based Snohomish Valley Roofing, Inc. advises, “A little homework early on will save you a lot of headaches.”  Now that is a pick-up line I can believe in!  Some common contractor red flags are:

I Don’t Give Out My Previous Customers Information

Any qualified craftsman will be proud to offer references and will have then readily available upon request, and satisfied customers are usually very willing to act as a reference.  Call to interview contractors by phone and ask for references of a project similar to what you are planning.  Visit the project and speak with the homeowner.  What was their experience?  Was it completed on time and on budget?  What has been their level of satisfaction with any additional follow up or maintenance?  Based on your findings, schedule 3 or 4 contractors for an onsite evaluation and estimate.

I Can Bid That Over The Phone

No two projects are the same, and experienced contractors will insist on visiting the site to assess, measure and properly bid the project.  This is a good time to review required credentials such as: a current contractor’s license, valid insurance and bond with the Washington State Department of Licensing.  It is important to note that, if injury or damage were to happen on a jobsite with an unlicensed and uninsured contractor, the homeowner is responsible.  Is the company in good standing with the Better Business Bureau?  Find out at  Do they know what your local city or county codes are and will they be responsible for obtaining any necessary permits?  “Avoid any contractor who asks you to put the permit in your name or skips the process altogether.” says Wallin.  The Master Builders Association of Washington ( implores homeowners to gather at least 3 written estimates and evaluate what is the most fair, not necessarily the lowest cost, option.

I Work Off Of A Handshake

No one should enter into an agreement without a signed contract detailing the project scope, costs and materials.  The contract should also detail financial information such as payment terms and schedule, if your project is long term.  Beware of any contractor asking for money up front or for you to buy your own materials, as that may indicate that the contractor is not in a stable financial situation.  Most contractors require payment upon completion of the project and many accept Visa and Mastercard.

This Offer Expires Today

Don’t walk; run away!  A qualified contractor knows at what cost he or she can complete the project including their profit margin.  The costs for equipment, materials and labor are steady, if not constant, and the cost of the project should remain consistent for a defined period of time (usually 60-90 days).  Do not allow yourself to be pressured into signing a contract earlier than when you are ready.  Your contractor should respect your decision to move forward based on your timeline and needs, not theirs.

I Will Be In Your Area For One Day

Well, then, you won’t be working on my project!  Certainly there are competent contractors elsewhere, but I prefer and urge you to hire locally.  Some contractors will offer a small discounts due to lower delivery costs and, if there is the need for follow up maintenance, being local will serve you well.  LakeStevens and GraniteFalls are ripe with certified craftsmen and the Chamber of Commerce websites are valuable resources when reviewing construction services.

Here is to NO MORE bad pick-up lines – anytime, anywhere!

Janice Huxford juggles a 25-year career in the highly competitive Wireless Technology industry with serving on the Lake Stevens Planning Commission and Aquafest Executive Board. She and her husband Dave Warrick own Snohomish Valley Roofing, Inc. and SVR Construction Services, which were recently named 2013 Business of the Year. They are passionate advocates for small business. Janice is an avid reader, enjoys running marathons, waterskiing, cooking and every moment spent with her 5 year old English Bulldog, ZuZu.


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